It’s February, which is about the time that a lot of us forget what it was like before the weather got dark and cold and grey. Fall seems like a distant memory now, the holiday season is behind us, and you may be feeling more, tired, anxious or sad than usual. In most people, this time of year leads to sluggishness and a tendency to overeat and spend more time sitting rather than being active. However, others experience a more severe form of winter depression that is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
Symptoms of SAD include decreased concentration, increased appetite, weight gain, moodiness, fatigue, and social withdrawal. Researchers have found that SAD is more common in areas that have longer and more intense winters, such as Canada and parts of the United States.
If you feel as though you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, you should speak to a doctor.
However, whether you experience SAD or just the winter blues, it’s easy to feel down at this time of year. Here are some tips that could help improve your mood.
Take a Walk
While it can sometimes be too cold to go for a walk, regular exercise can be helpful at improving your mood. While exercising indoors can also be beneficial, combining exercise with exposure to natural light can have greater benefit.
Get Some Sun
Try to spend at least some time outside during the day each day. Consider going outside during the first two hours after waking up, even if it’s cloudy. Exposing yourself to natural light early in the day can certainly help improve your mood.
If you’re feeling anxious or down, you might be tempted to fill yourself with “comfort food.” The problem is that many of the foods we are attracted to when we’re feeling down aren’t necessarily the best ones for our health. Worse yet, eating an unhealthy diet can actually make your mood worse, leaving you with less energy and feeling even more down. To combat this, make sure you eat a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, healthy proteins and plenty of vegetables and fruit.
When you’re feeling down, one of the last things you’ll likely want to do is socialize. However, talking with people you enjoy spending time with can help improve your mood. Isolation feeds depression, so try to spend some time with a social group that you find enjoyable.