It's a new year, you're all pumped up to make some positive changes in your life, but you just can't seem to break out of the post-holiday, cold-weather rut you've fallen into. You aren't alone.
According to WebMD, because of a lack of sunlight in winter months, the brain has to work extra hard to produce melatonin, the hormone connected to depression. Therefore, the further north you live, the more likely you are to be depressed in the winter. In fact, WebMD says that only 1% of Floridians have seasonal depression, compared to an overwhelming 50% of people in the northern U.S. and Canada.
Seasonal depression makes it extremely difficult to stay motivated and focused on your goals for 2013. If a Caribbean cruise isn't on your immediate to-do list, there are other ways you can overcome the winter blues and renew yourself and your spirits.
Daylight Lamp Therapy
Natural light cues tell our bodies to wake up and to sleep, and they also help us regulate mood and energy. When we don't get the right light, such as during the winter months when the days are shorter, we can be tired and moody. You can overcome seasonal depression by using daylight bulbs in your regular lamps, or with light therapy, also known as phototherapy. Supplying your body with more natural light during the winter can help you maintain a happier, healthier, more energetic attitude.
Part of the problem of not being motivated to exercise is that you haven't started exercising. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical exercise helps relieve stress and boost your mood, which will help you to defeat those winter blues. Once you're in the habit of exercising regularly, you'll feel better and won't want to stop.
Negative ions are naturally present near the ocean, in the mountains and at the base of waterfalls. They are believed to help with relaxation and are thought to be beneficial to the immune system. Getting outdoors during the winter may help with seasonal depression, but if that isn't possible, negative ion generators placed in your home or office can have the same effect. According to a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, using an electronic negative ion generator can lessen the severity of seasonal depression. However, negative ions can cause problems for people with respiratory conditions, so please consult your doctor if you have asthma or other chronic lung issues.
If you don't take vitamins, you should definitely consider it. Vitamin D, Vitamins B6 and B12, Omega-3, and St. John's Wart are all thought to provide mood-enhancing benefits. Talk to your doctor about which vitamins and supplements to add to your diet.
In addition to regular physical activities, exercise that involves the body and mind can also help alleviate depression. This includes acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. These activities aid in relaxation, helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
Get Out of the House
Seriously, spend quality time out of your house with friends and family to help overcome the winter blues. You may not feel up to getting out of your pajamas, but being around positive, happy people can make you happy and positive. So go shopping with a friend, grab an appetizer together, or even go snowshoeing. It will lift your spirits.
If you still suffer from anxiety and depression despite attempts to overcome it on your own, you may want to talk to your doctor about options, like possible medications or seeing a therapy. Your depression may be more serious than you think, and getting the proper help can change your life for the better.
These are some ideas for staying perked up during the winter, but we're not medical experts. Please consult your physician for medical advice when if you are concerned about depression, or can't seem to get yourself out of feeling down.