As the snowbanks pile higher I find myself feeling increasingly under the weather emotionally. In New England late February is associated with melting snow and sometimes rain, but this year we have been bombarded (and then some) with snow. And being someone who gets cold easily and enjoys a nice 75 degrees and sunny, I am finding myself and those around me, feeling down in the dumps.
The clinical term for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression. The disorder is defined as, “a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. SAD is a form of depression that if serious can require therapy and proper treatment, but there are some ways to counteract the effects in perhaps less severe cases or early stages of the disorder.
Having scoured the internet for ways to counter the effects of what some refer to as the “winter blues”, here are five ways to combat SAD:
1. Plan a trip
Booking a flight and an Airbnb for a getaway where there is a beach involved, always makes me feel a little warmer. It gives me something to look forward to. I hear Greece is beautiful in the springtime! And if Athens and Ouzo are out of your price range, Charleston, SC is supposed to be a nice trip as well.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Unless you live in Antarctica the snow outside will not be there forever (depending on your take on climate change, of course), so why not take advantage of it. Try winter sports like skiing or snowshoeing and if you’re not that ambitious try going for a walk to see the fresh layer of snow. As easy as it is to hate, you cannot deny that the white stuff is beautiful. Why not take advantage of it while it is here? Just know that the sun will come out eventually. After all, mindfulness is all about being where you are and in the moment. Be patient, try to find joy in the little things and it will be Spring before you know it.
3. Invest in some light therapy
Whether you prefer makeup mirrors, goggles or lamps, the market for indoor light sources that provide the virtual sensation of sitting out in the sun has been cornered. It is not the real thing, but there have been studies linking certain lights and their affect on people’s moods. Some say that sitting in front of the proper light for as little as 15 minutes a day can significantly lift your spirits.
4. Go out in the sun
In New England, the sun is a rumor that only a few have confirmed the existence of, but if you happen to be walking by a window in your office and there is light streaming through and emanating from this big ball in the sky, take a minute and stand in its rays. Even better, if you have five minutes, go outside and stand in it when it is hottest out. There is simply no substitute for Vitamin D directly from the source.
As much as the gym seems to be this dreaded and perhaps mysterious place, getting your brain pumped with some necessary oxygen and endorphins may just give you the boost you need. Plus, your body will appreciate it.