How to Fight the Winter Blues

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Written by Keagan Lanham and River Stone

Winter brings to mind warm hot chocolate, flurries of snow, twinkling lights, and friends and family- but for some people, winter darkness can mean sadness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, rightly abbreviated as SAD, is a type of depression caused by the lack of sunlight and colder temperatures experienced during the winter. With changing sunlight and sleep patterns, SAD will most definitely bring down your spirits. Here are some tips to help you fight the depression and stay jolly:

Go Outside- Sunlight is your body’s main source of vitamin D. Not only does a lack of vitamin D cause bone pain and muscle weakness, but it also induces unexplained fatigue. This may be one reason why many people become more tired during the winter. With the shorter days, getting outside during those precious moments of daylight is essential.

Exercise- Winter holidays mean comfort food, and lots of it.  Exercising can help you burn off some of those holiday goodies. Not only will it make you feel better physically, but a more active and able body will also raise your self-esteem. Stress and anxiety are key factors of SAD, which can be lowered with gradual exercise.

Visit your loved ones- Winter months make many feel lonely and desolate. Spending time with the people you care about can help solve this problem. Giving gifts can also help one become more compassionate and evoke gratitude, as well as bring people closer to loved ones. The chemicals in the brain responsible for a person’s happiness are oxytocin and serotonin. Face-to-face exposure and close contact with people you care has been scientifically proven to activate these chemicals.

Seek Treatment- If these natural remedies aren’t enough, there is available medical help. One type of treatment that mimics natural sunlight is light therapy. The patient sits in front of a box emitting a bright light; research shows that this can relieve their worries and literally brighten one’s day. Psychotherapy can also help with SAD. Talking to a trained professional can help you learn to manage stress and also identify specific things that are bringing down your mood.

One or more of these remedies should be able to keep you smiling even when the sun isn’t.