tagHow ToHow To Beat The Winter Blues

How To Beat The Winter Blues


Living in a country that has twice as long winter than most others, I know quite a bit about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What happens, in layman's terms, is that the body has a reaction to the lack of sunlight, which causes us to feel inexplicably tired and drained of energy. We feel sad and restless, and left untreated these symptoms can develop into a serious and dangerous depression.

Instead of feeling like weirdoes for having "shameful" psychological problems, we should recognize this for what it is; our bodies' natural physical reaction to the changes in the environment. Sort of like when we breathe in fumes from a car, and the carbon dioxide causes us to cough.

Just like we protect our health by avoiding to have a pick nick next to a running car, we need to protect our health against the lack-of-light depression.

In those cases where the symptoms are very strong, some doctors prescribe medicine and light-therapy, where the patient is exposed to hours of strong lights. People who have strong feelings of depression should most definitely seek medical care. This is a serious physical, not mental disease!

Those who are only having a mild case of The Blues, however, may try doing a little health treatment at home.

Since you're feeling low due to your body not getting enough light, the first step is to bring more light into your home. Lots of light! Turn on every lamp you have! Buy small, decorative lamps and pack the windows and bookcases with them. OK, it may not be all that environmental friendly, but you can always make up for that in the summer, by not using any lamps at all.

You could also light candles – a very popular thing to do in Sweden in November – January. But be careful – don't EVER leave candles burning unattended!

If you look through the window and all you see is another concrete apartment building, smoking factory chimneys, or a messy, slushy street, then that sight's going to make you feel even more gloomy. Shut it out!

Cover your windows with curtains or Venetian blinds in bright, cheerful colours, and focus on the inside of your home instead. Try to see it as a cosy cave, where you're kept safe and warm from the cold and the darkness outside.

Clutter is tiresome for the eye. Try to scrape up the necessary energy, and then put one weekend aside to have a BIG cleaning. Sort things, scrub floors, the whole package, and you'll feel much lighter at heart afterwards.

Mind how you dress! Boring, worn-out clothes in black and grey will make you feel worn-out and grey yourself. Choose clothes that make you feel attractive, preferably in light, cheerful colours. If you use make-up, take the extra time to make yourself look truly gorgeous! It will do wonders for your self-esteem. As will all the compliments and admiring looks you're bound to get!

Take a walk every day if you can manage it, preferably in nature. The physical exercise will change your restless energy into an urge to do something positive; work, clean up, finish tasks that have been left behind, etc.

The light, the fresh air, and the exercise will improve your health, and being out in nature will reduce your feelings of stress. It's hard to feel stressed about the assignment that is due on Tuesday, when you're meditating under a tree that has seen generation after generation of people rush by. Trees know the truth. There's nothing more important than feeling good. Calm and harmonious. Be a tree!

It might also be a good idea to mind your diet. You need to take care of yourself and give your body what it needs to stay strong and healthy. Avoid fast food, sugar and fat, this is just empty calories, and don't drink too much coffee either. Part of being depressed has to do with the body mixing up the hormones, so that we get the sleeping hormones during the day, causing us to feel tired; while we get the "working hormones" during the night, making us feel stressed and nervous.

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, avoid fried food, and switch to mild herbal tea. Make sure to get your daily dose of vitamins.

If you have trouble falling asleep, don't try to force yourself to fall asleep, this will only enhance the stress. Drink a glass of milk, open the window – a lot of people sleep better when the bedroom is cold – and just lay back and relax. Try to think of something nice. Something positive. Daydream. It doesn't matter if it's completely impossible for you to quit your job and travel around the world, in your dreams, you are allowed to do whatever you want. Let your fantasy run free, and create an ideal world for yourself, a world where you can do whatever you want. This sort of positive thinking has a strengthening effect on your self-esteem, even though you may not notice the effects right away.

Plus, it gives you something nice to do while you're waiting for the sandman...

And finally – get your mind off boredom and anxiety by doing something funny. At least ONCE a day, do something you really enjoy. Read a book. Rent a movie. Call a friend. Join a cooking class. Go out dancing. Have sex. In really desperate cases, ask a friend to tickle you!

Hang in there. Everything comes and goes. Spring and light and happiness WILL come again. You just keep busy having fun while you're waiting for it.

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