Dr. Guina, Easterseals MORC's Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Bali, Easterseals MORC's Medical Director, have a few tips to make sure you remain mentally healthy during the cold, winter months.
The Winter Blues is described as sadness that occurs during the fall and winter months. Some individuals experience trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, changes in mood or thinking, and an increased lack of motivation.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is described as severe sadness that occurs during the fall and winter months. Individuals who struggle with SAD have frequent sleep issues, poor appetite, changes in mood or thinking, and experience depression that limits normal functioning and motivation.
Physical activity has been shown to boost mood, decrease symptoms of depression, and reduce stress. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated to exercise when feeling depressed. Instead of committing to one longer task, break the time up into chunks.
Getting outside daily, even for a few minutes, can have a huge impact on your mood and help target the specific symptoms of SAD related to lack of daylight. Even 15-minute periods of activity (e.g., jumping jacks, running in place, push-ups, & sit-ups) can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
A simple change to boost your mood is to consider the food you eat. Consuming protein with your meals can enhance mood and prevent sugar and carb cravings later in the day.
Being indoors more often means an increase in screen time. And if this time is spent consuming a non-stop news cycle, you may feel an increase of winter blues. This winter, help minimize your stress and sadness from the news by trying to limit the amount of time you spend in front of a screen.
Studies have shown having a strong support system and maintaining contact with others can greatly benefit our mental health. COVID-19 changed the way we interact with friends and family, but the winter months provide a unique set of challenges when trying to socialize. Talking on the phone so you can hear your loved one's voice, setting up a video chat so you can see their face, or organizing virtual game nights are some of our favorite ways to maintain contact.