It's not unusual to experience feelings of sadness and depression during the winter months.
Cold days, early sunsets and the return to work after the excitement of Christmas can all take its toll. For many of us the winter blues are minor, but for others, winter-induced depression can be debilitating. This kind of severe depression is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, the NHS explained. According to the source, some 2 million people, on average, experience SAD in the UK every year.
If you are feeling down this winter season, there are a number of activities that you can try that may help relieve your symptoms. And keep in mind that if your depression becomes severe, it is crucial that you seek help from your GP.
Great strategies for beating the winter blues this season include:
1. Listening to music
According to SAD.org.uk, a non-profit dedicated to helping people with SAD, one activity that can help tackle the problem is listening to your favourite music - particularly music that is vibrant and encourages dance or singing. Put another way, avoid the break-up ballads and other downbeat tunes! Music has, according to the source, been shown by studies to impact mood, contingent on the nature of the music. A great tip is to compile a special playlist of upbeat music that you can play whenever you feel that your mood is becoming too low.
"Music has been shown to impact mood."
2. Spending time outside
A lack of sunlight is often a major contributor to SAD symptoms, so one way to help alleviate this problem is to spend time outside during the day, NHS advised. This could involve walking to your local shops, taking a stroll in the park or taking your dog for a wintertime beach walk. If you are forced to spend time indoors during the day - perhaps you have an office job - the NHS stated that a great way to get more sunlight is to sit as close to a window as possible.
3. Pursuing a new hobby
Introducing a new hobby to your life, whether that's painting, knitting, jogging or swimming, will likely help you manage your feelings of depression, the NHS explained, quoting Sue Pavlovich from the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association. This strategy helps because it gives your mind something new and exciting to focus on.
4. Exercising more
Staying active during the winter months is a fantastic way to relieve depression symptoms, as it helps produce endorphins, the brain's feel-good chemical, The Huffington Post explained. And, better still, exercise is great for your physical health too, helping to keep your heart healthy and reducing your risk of a whole host of chronic illnesses, including cancer and stroke. There are so many ways to keep exercising in the winter: Head to the gym, attend a class, work out at home with the help of an online video or fitness DVD, or even just walking around your local indoor shopping centre - it all helps!
5. Taking a holiday
If time and funds allow, consider taking a holiday somewhere nice and warm - think the Canary Islands or even the Caribbean. As SAD.org.uk explained, this strategy is effective because not only will you be exposed to sunlight and warmth on the trip, the excitement leading up to the trip can keep your mind occupied with positive thoughts, lessening symptoms of SAD. If you are unable to find the time and money to go abroad, even a small trip within the UK could help boost your mood, simply because it's a change of scenery and something to look forward to.
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