Is there a good way for managing the winter blues? Our therapist here at true., Dr. Ashley Wildman hosted a recent Let’s Chat on this very important topic: the mental effects of the changing seasons and shortening daylight hours. Late fall and winter are difficult times for many. The decreased access to sunlight, both in quantity and time, can create a sense of fatigue and melancholy. With the time change, it starts getting dark as early as 5, so it’s hard to acquire much sunlight.

Managing The Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition that worsens mental health in the winter months. While only about 5% of the population is estimated to have it at a clinical level, around 20% are thought to have a mild form, meaning a good portion of people are significantly affected. It also affects women more than men! The cases also rise with increased distance from the equator.

Because of less light absorption, there’s less stimulation of serotonin and melatonin. Dr. Wildman came armed with five tips to guide us through the winter blues.

Expectations

Make a mental note of what your expectations are for yourself this winter. Are you expecting too much of yourself? We can have a tendency to place quite a bit of pressure on ourselves. Try letting your perfectionism take a back seat and ask what burdens you can ease off of yourself.

Light

Figure out a way to implement light into your daily routine, whether it’s sitting in front of the window for 20 minutes while sipping your coffee, or buying an artificial therapy light.

Sleep

It’s okay to sleep more this time of year! You’re not lazy for taking longer rests, and your body might require more sleep. In case of issues getting to sleep, weighted blankets are helpful. A good resource we recommend is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

Movement

Your body should be moving, so that it knows there’s nothing wrong! An outside stroll would be best, to get some fresh air and sunlight, but anything is helpful. Try yoga, morning stretches, or cycling.

Vitamin D

Ultraviolet rays from the sun produce Vitamin D naturally, which serves as a mood enhancer and source of energy, among other benefits. You can get Vitamin D artificially through supplements when your body isn’t producing enough in the winter.

Final Thoughts On Managing The Winter Blues

Dr. Wildman closed out the chat on managing the winter blues with a few questions to ask yourself as the colder months approach. Take some time to rest and reflect.

  1. How are you doing with your SEEDS®? As the seasons change, so do our health needs. You may need more water in the winter because the air is dryer. Learn more about the SEEDS® in Dr. Bitner’s ebook or read this short article.
  2. What can I say no to? Everyone over-books sometimes. Don’t feel bad about clearing up your schedule to minimize stress!
  3. How can I incorporate more light in my morning? As we suggested, sit in front of a window, take the dog for a quick morning walk, or invest in a light therapy box.
  4. What is one thing I can do today to improve my sleep tonight? Think about habits you can change. Avoid blue light exposure late at night by limiting your screen time or have a nice hot beverage before bedtime.
  5. How can I move tomorrow to let my body know it’s okay? Take it easy on days where rest would be beneficial. On days where you have more energy, engage in muscle-strengthening exercises and cardio.

We hope you found this information useful and can apply it to your lives as you bundle up this fall! Anyone who finds themselves struggling can talk to us, and we’ll get you in touch with Dr. Wildman. You should know that you always have listening ears here at true. to rely on. Make the most of your autumn, and we’ll see you for the next Let’s Chat soon!