Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that hits during the winter. Around 4 to 6% of the U.S. population suffer from SAD, and another 10 to 20% probably have a mild form of winter depression. Here’s how to manage your mental health in the winter months, whether you have SAD, or just a case of the cooped-up winter blues.
How Can I Manage My Mental Health in the Winter?
Although there are fewer instances, people, even in year-round sunny climates, can struggle with their mental health in the winter months. Since COVID, we have more employees working from home, where social isolation can sometimes cause depression. For people stuck indoors due to weather, real issues related to your overall health, including your mental health, can crop up.
Here are a few ways to manage your mental health in the winter months:
Get regular exercise.
Even if it’s just a short walk outside at lunchtime, the idea is that you get out of the house, move, and experience some new stimulation. Plus, physical activity can help boost mood and reduce stress.
Get more sunlight.
Most of us spend all day staring at a blue screen. In the winter, the days are shorter, giving us less opportunity to get outside and away from our devices. Try to spend time outdoors every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes (or the wind chill is -10).
We mentioned how social isolation increased during and post-COVID. When you work from home, you must make a special effort to see people outside of a Zoom call. But social support is important for mental well-being. Make time to talk with loved ones, even if it can only be screen-to-screen. Don’t blow off that Friday afternoon happy hour, either.
Practice stress reduction.
Stress reduction tools are all around you, but you must make the time to use them to reduce your winter blues. Yes, walks and exercise help. There are meditation apps and yoga classes on Apple TV or at your local gym. Use them.
Improve your diet.
What goes in comes out in your skin, hair, weight, and mood. Consider lessening the volume of processed food you eat while increasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead of eating out at lunchtime, try packing a nutritious lunch to take to the office.
Did you know 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Dehydration causes fatigue. Alcohol, salt, and coffee dehydrate us even further, but it’s unlikely that you’re drinking the eight 8-ounce glasses of water you need every single day. Can you fix that?
Get more sleep.
Like drinking water, sleep is one of those things that we neglect. One in three Americans doesn’t get the seven hours recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The problem is largely due to our love of computer screens, which negatively impact our sleep patterns. Chronically tired people also have low energy and depression. A lack of sleep may be what’s holding you down.
Try a light box.
SAD is treated with light therapy, a process that exposes you daily to a therapeutic dose of bright light. A light box exposes you to “good light” (not harmful UV rays), and the research shows even a short daily session with artificial light can lessen depression.
Sometimes the best medicine for the winter blues is to find a new job that excites and energizes you. That’s where PrideStaff can help. We match great job candidates to the best employers for a win-win that gets you hired. Call on us to find out how we can help.