Ohhh the winter blues. Unfortunately I know these all too well! I spent 27 years living in winter and it absolutely took a toll on me. For some reason I thought moving to Northern California would help me escape the winter blues since you know…no snow…but I was wrong! California (and especially Nor Cal) very much has a winter, it just involves more rain. The sun still sets at 4:30 and I’ve come to learn that it’s the sun that has the largest impact on the winter blues.
So if you feel like you never see the sun in winter and the winter season has been drawing on for years, this post is for you. We’re going over the signs of the winter blues and how to kick it in the butt this year.
Why do people get the winter blues?
If you notice that your mood gets gloomy with the weather, you might be experiencing winter blues. The days get shorter and colder and it’s easy to want to go into hibernation mode during this time. The winter blues affect people at different levels but in general there’s a feeling of sluggishness that comes with less exposure to daylight.
Signs to Watch For
- feeling gloomy
- wanting to hibernate
- feeling down about the weather, lack of sun
Please note: if you’re experiencing more serious signs and symptoms that are affecting other areas of your life (for example work or relationships) you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder which is a type of depression. Make an appointment with your doctor and/or therapist immediately to discuss your symptoms.
How to Treat Winter Blues and Improve Your Mood
There are simple lifestyle changes you can do to boost your winter mood.
Hygge down! Ok I don’t know if that’s a phrase but hygge means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)” according to Oxford Dictionary. In plain terms, hygge means cozying up and embracing the winter months. What does this actually look like? This might mean lighting more candles, enjoying mulled wine around a fireplace, decking your home with cozy blankets and faux furs. Sometimes shifting your perspective can actually help you find the joy!
Gather. Although you might not feel like socializing or leaving your home during the cold, winter months, gathering with loved ones can be such a great way to boost your mood. Plan a game night, go to a show, watch a movie – so many options! And hey… if you don’t want to leave your home, host!
See the sun! The sun instantly snaps me out of my winter blues. If you live in the north, I fully know you can go literal weeks without seeing the sun. If this is you, you have a couple options.
- Plan a trip! If you are financially able, plan a trip to a state where the sun is shining bright. If you can’t this year, plan ahead to travel next winter. This is a game changer!
- Try light therapy. I don’t mean a tanning booth… there are a ton of light brands that you can get to try at home. Mayo does recommend chatting with your doctor before incorporating light therapy so they might be able to recommend a specific brand. (source).
Supplement. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest supplement taker (coming from a former supplement junkie btw), but did you know that Vitamin D is also known as “the sunshine vitamin”? If you don’t see much sun, consider taking Vitamin D to help boost your mood. Along with Vitamin D, be sure to take Vitamin K – they work as a team! (source) Lack of Vitamin B12 has been linked to depression so if you feel winter blues coming on, it’s worth getting your B12 levels checked and supplemented! Omega 3 fatty acids are also known to help improve your mood. Take a fish oil capsule or focus on eating more fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed. (source). In case you’re wondering I only take a couple supplements: Vitamin D+K combined, B12 and magnesium.
Like this post? Here are a few others you might enjoy:
- My Mental Healthy Story
- How to Find a Therapist
- DIY Stress Relief Tea
- An Intro Guide to Essential Oils
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