What you can do to battle seasonal mental health issues

Feeling blue during the winter season isn't at all abnormal. In fact, with shorter days and colder nights, many people find themselves feeling a little down this time of year. It's called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and while there may not be a cure, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to help yourself feel more happy and balanced.


Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule

Just because it gets darker earlier doesn't mean that you should head to bed around 7 pm. While it may be tempting some days, altering your sleep schedule may lead to worsened depression symptoms. Because going to bed earlier leaves less time for "you time" after work, it may lead to more stress and anxiety. Instead, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to keep your mood elevated during the day.


Exercise Regularly

When you work out, it releases endorphins throughout your body that may help to lift your spirits when you're feeling low in energy or motivation. Even if you can't hit the gym three days a week, simply taking a walk outside for half an hour may help you to think more positively and experience fewer symptoms of depression.


Eat Healthy Foods

If you're feeling depressed, it can be easy to turn toward junk food as comfort. However, those kinds of foods can lead to weight gain, fatigue and overall sluggishness, which will only worsen your depressive symptoms. However, healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits, can actually help to elevate your mood. Rather than grab take-out or prepare a frozen dinner, set time aside to make a healthy meal for yourself.


Practice Meditation

Rather than letting your mind run wild on negative thoughts, try practicing meditation. When you meditate, you aren't exactly trying to push the negative thoughts away. Instead, you focus on your breathing and watch the thought come into your mind without plugging into it. With practice, meditation allows you to see the negative thought in your head and let it float on without latching onto it.


Make Time for Friendships

When you're feeling down, it's easy to isolate yourself from other people. However, spending time with friends or family can actually help to combat fatigue and depression symptoms. Even if your schedule is packed, try to carve out a little bit of time to get together with a friend or loved one.


Don't Overcommit Yourself

While friendships are important, it is important not to spread yourself too thin during the holiday and winter seasons. Committing yourself to work or social events may lead to more stress and anxiety that could worsen your symptoms. Instead of saying yes to everything (including social media invites), be selective and put some boundaries in place so you have the time to relax and unwind at home.


Make Time for YOU

Wintertime can be a great time to celebrate with loved ones, but it's also the perfect opportunity to take care of yourself as well. Taking some time to do things that help you relax or simply allow you to focus inward not only helps rid your life of extra stress and anxiety but may lift your mood as well.


Closing Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of activities that can help to improve your mood during the winter season. Try incorporating just one or two changes into your routine to start feeling happier today and well into the winter and holiday season.

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