How to Deal with Winter Blues?
As days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder, you can feel down and tired during the day. Experiencing the winter blues is very common and it can affect your mood, sleep pattern and motivation. Even if it is not seriously interfering with daily life functioning, it is annoying to feel down. So, let’s look at the possible causes and what you can do to overcome it.
What Causes Winter Blues?
There are no exact causes that we know about but scientists have some theories about why we experience winter blues. One of the theories is about our circadian rhythm (biological clock). Since days are getting shorter, we are getting less sunlight than we used to. Less sunlight entering from the eyes causes our body to have an increased amount of the sleep hormone – melatonin and a decreased amount of the mood regulation hormone – serotonin. Because of the changes in these two hormones, we experience sadness and fatigue.
How Can You Beat Winter Blues?
Since the number one reason for the winter blues is not getting enough daylight, the number one solution is trying to get more of it.
- You can try to go outside as much as you can, especially on bright days or you can place your study desk in a place where you can get the light from the window.
- Another suggestion from the scientists is to be active. Going out for a walk or a run, exercising outdoors can help you regulate your mood. Because serotonin levels in the brain are thought to be increased by exercise. Also, people with high activity levels during the day have better sleep during the night. Having a good sleep quality can help you feel more energetic during the day.
- Eating well is important, too. Feeling depressed can make you crave sugar, and you may want to eat chocolate but adding fruits and vegetables to your diet is important to boost your health. Plus, you can cook and eat with your friends to feel connected and happy!
- Like mentioned above, feeling connected with other people and socializing is essential to feel better. You can try to be a volunteer in a community, like Dimensie, that you feel close to yourself. By doing that, you can both feel good about yourself and help others in need.
Winter Blues vs. Seasonal Affective Disorder
These are the general causes and solutions to the winter blues. However, we need to distinguish winter blues from the Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winter blues is not a medical diagnosis, and it is not serious, it can pass with the small behavioral changes. However, SAD is a type of major depression related to the change in seasons. If you are experiencing severe sadness, serious sleep disturbances, and depression which limits your daily functioning you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In that case, please reach for help from professionals. You can consult the Student Psychologists in the Student Affairs Coaching & Counselling (SACC) in University of Twente.