10 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

10 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

How To Smile Like a Snowman This Winter!

Does your snowman wear a frown?
A lot of people are affected by the Winter Blues, known medically as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition is most likely caused by the reduced amount of sunlight in the late fall and winter months, and it causes many people to feel very depressed without any outside stimulation to cause it. Does this sound like you? If it does, I'm here to help with 10 ways to make yourself a little happier this season.

1. Get outside.

Since you are spending a lot more time indoors, now is a great time to immerse yourself in a new hobby. This can even be your new year's resolution! Find a passion that gets your excited and keeps you occupied for hours. You won't have any time to think about the things that get you down.

3. Journal

Writing is a great way to get out those pent-up emotions. Instead of talking to someone about your problems, which can only extend the time you think about your troubles, or keeping them to yourself, mulling them over in your mind for hours, write down your thoughts. It supplies the release you need by sharing your thoughts, but once you've written them down, the conversation is over and you can move on. Additionally, journaling is a great way to achieve your new year's resolutions - keep a log of your eating, finances, and anything else you want to improve.

4. Increase Your Intake of Vitamin D

Speaking of eating healthier, increasing Vitamin D in your diet can be a great way of supplementing that luck of sunshine. Vitamin D, normally soaked up through our skin from the sun, can greatly contribute to your mood elevation or depression. Vitamin D can be found in fish, eggs, and dairy products made from whole milk. If you don't think you're getting enough in your diet, consider asking your personal physician to do some blood work - if you find your body's lacking, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. Make sure you choose one from a reputable brand and take it as instructed to reap the greatest benefits.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to increase your own joy while helping someone else as well. It's proven that helping others makes us feel better about ourselves - it gives us a sense of community, importance, and usefulness, and it can be a a great way to meet other people and better the world around you. This is an especially good idea for anyone who is feeling lonely this winter. You'll be working with others and meeting other people who you can build relationships with that will keep you feeling happy and loved all through the year.

6. Declutter Your Surroundings

Don't wait for spring cleaning to get your organize your belongings. A cluttered environment can increase anxiety. Take a day to clean up the house and give yourself room to breathe. Donate items you no longer need. Gift items you think someone you know would love. Make yourself a spot where you can sit and relax when you need a moment of peace.

7. Cook a Hearty Meal

In the winter, we tend to have some unhealthy eating habits. Some, because of depression, tend to eat to little, while others eat to much. Meanwhile, there are plenty of sugary temptations to wreak havoc on our diet and digestive systems. A great way to solve this problem, and improve your mood, is to take this time to cook yourself a hearty meal. It will keep you from snacking unhealthily through the day (if you're a chronic eater), or it will force you to actually sit down and eat a nutritious meal (if you tend to stay away from food when you're in a bad mood). Make sure the meal is high in protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and carbohydrates with a high fiber content so you feel satisfied. Cooking is a great hobby that can be fueled into a way to beat depression, while eating the delicious food increases your serotonin levels, making you happier.

8. Exercise

Exercise increases your endorphin levels, which makes you a very happy person. Additionally, it makes you healthier and can help you achieve that new year's resolution you've been working on for years now. Take the time to do a 30 minute workout each day and you'll love the results.

9. Enjoy Free Activities in Your City

There are lots of indoor events that happening in your city during the winter to keep you entertained and get you out of the house. Check your local libraries page for special events. Look up local museums to see if they are featuring a gallery free-of-charge or having a free-admission day. Check if your local community college is having any free concerts. Get out and about and enjoy the world around you.

10. Drink Lots of Water

This is quite possibly the most simple and most important thing you can do to improve your mood. A dehydrated body is an unhappy body. Make sure you are drinking at least 64oz of water a day, every day, not just in the winter. You'll find yourself having more energy, a happier mood, and a healthier body.

The winter blues can turn what would otherwise be another beautiful season into dreaded, dreary months. Take some time to elevate your mood and enjoy life around you - every moment is precious, and you deserve to spend it smiling.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

Popular Right Now

Poem: Get Over You

I wish you knew how I really feel

This is the poem when your heart keeps you in an unhealthy relationship. You never liked the way they made you feel, but you still give in. This is the poem where you decide to finally fight back, and finally say what you have to say and feel what you really feel.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue;

I can’t wait to get the hell over you.

Sometimes I wish I knew how much pain you caused me.

Sometimes I wish I never even met you.

Maybe for once I wouldn’t feel like a fool.

A fool for letting you in.

Only to weaken me.

But I shouldn’t have to push this pain aside,

and pretend you’re the best thing to happen to me.

I wish I told myself that earlier,

because as the years go on,

the easier it is for me to fall head over heels for you.

So why am I still doing this?

I tell you how I feel to your face,

but you don’t listen.

You just stand there and clap when I’m done speaking.

I have to explain everything to you,

but it only goes over your head,

and I’m still the idiot.

Everyone scoffs as I don’t even listen to myself.

Brainwashed by the infatuation rushing into the room.

I guess holding your hand

is no different from two glasses of pinot noir.

I don’t know why I still let you get to me,

and I guess that’s why you still break me down,

but manage to hold my heart in your hands.

My heart wants me to love you,

but I don’t think I know what I want

so I settle for good enough.

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

I think I should find someone new.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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How Can Our Generation Make An Impact On The Addicted Population?

We see good people succumb to terrible habits and addictions, but there are ways to turn it around and see things in a different light.

The sad truth of the matter is that the younger population is the overwhelming majority of people that make up the addiction population. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States is facing one of the worst opioid epidemics where at least 116 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses (as of an estimation from 2016) on a daily basis.

If you take a larger look at the situation at hand, young adults from 18 to 25 years of age are the biggest abusers of prescription opioid pain relievers. Those numbers, unfortunately, are reaching a maximum high as the years go by.

It takes one reason to pick up a joint, pop a pill, do a line, or shoot up once. Peer pressure, letting loose, and never backing down from a challenge tends to be one of the main reasons for doing so.

Carefree and innocent to a certain extent, the young adults of our generation think that they are invincible to the point that one time will not hurt them. It is probably what makes it acceptable to do ridiculous, life-threatening stunts such as the 'Tide-pod' challenge.

While this is an age-old discussion with no new facts brought to the table, there is a human behind the addiction that we tend to forget and that I want to bring to the forefront. The young generation that thought that the one time trial would not affect them now have fallen from grace.

Strung out and listless, they may not be resilient enough to go back on the straight and narrow because of deeper issues that are still being ruminated about. So whatever the initial reason was to start out on this path of experimentation then turned into a full-blown illness that has gotten so out of control. As bystanders, we tend to marginalize the issue, toss it under the carpet, and forget that it exists.

I do not claim to be an expert on addiction. I have not spent years studying this population or have people that I know succumb to the illness, but I do know what it feels like to make a judgment call on these people. For the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to get a glimpse of what has happened or not happened to these people. It is eye-opening, to say the least, and it made me reflect on a few things.

Mental health, in general, is something that society tends to avoid. Opening up to the people around you is difficult to begin with, but it is even harder when you do not know why you feel the way you feel.

Perspective on your life situation becomes warped and the people around you who think they know you make it easy to convince yourself that you are in the wrong. It is unresolved issues and undiagnosed mental disorders, that push people into substance abuse and we tend to not recognize it.

Those who suffer substance abuse or addictions feel that the only source of support is the substance itself. The most memorable thing I have heard from behavior group therapy is this:

[Substances] does not talk back, does not demand attention, and does not need comfort. It is just a friend that waits for you like a loyal puppy. And for a vast number of people suffering from addiction, it is a true statement. When people have failed to love and support them, substance abusers tend to go for the substance whether it be alcohol or opioids.

For those who do not suffer from addiction, we lose sight of what is important for the people who do. A first reaction to seeing someone who is suffering addiction is to take a blame game stand. "You are not trying hard enough," is a typical response for some who do not understand how addiction keeps a person captive. To the people who suffer addictions, the main focus tends to be how to get relief from the things that are uncomfortable. It does not make it easy when the people around them are not supportive.

So what should the next steps be? We are peers of many people who suffer addiction and are in a position to make a real impact. Our jobs (however difficult it may be) are to listen and recognize when someone needs help. And it starts when addiction (opioid or otherwise) is treated like an illness.

It is 10 times easier to relate to someone who is suffering from diabetes than it is to someone suffering from mental illness or addiction, which is saddening and sobering. The first step that all of us can do to put a dent in reducing the number of overdoses and deaths is to help others make the right choices for them. It is easier said than done, but it can make a world of difference in someone's life.

So if ever a friend or a family member musters the courage to admit they have a problem, it may be a good first step to turn off the judgment and lend an ear.

Cover Image Credit: flickr.com

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