6 Ways to Beat Depression During the Winter Months



Creative Commons License photo credit: jdebner

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder and you are starting to feel pretty down. It’s winter. A lot of people suffer from increased feelings of depression during the winter months. In this post I want to show you a few ways that you can help beat the winter blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Clinical Winter Depression
Did you know that there is actually a clinical form of depression that only occurs during winter? It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder and it is much more than just the winter blues. People who are affected by winter depression have serious symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, weight gain and more.

If you think that your winter blues are more than just winter blues then it is important to go and see your doctor. The tips I have given here will help but they are not a replacement for a medical diagnosis.

6 ways to beat depression during the winter months

1. Get outside often
As you might have already figured out, there is scientific evidence showing that depression increases when there is less sunlight. Sunlight causes the production of Vitamin D in your body and this is a natural antidepressant. If you don’t get a good amount of sunlight it is likely that you will start to feel depressed.

It is important to get outside in the sun often. Now I am not talking about getting dangerous amounts of sun as this can lead to sun burn and skin cancer. What I am talking about is a sensible amount, morning or late afternoon, when the sun is not too powerful.

2. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a fantastic way to help beat the winter blues. I love to get out and go for a run in nature. Near my house there is an old forest with a beautiful creek running through it. For many years I have gone jogging there just to be alone, enjoy the wildlife around me and breathe some fresh air.

But exercise makes you feel good for other, more scientific reasons. When you exercise your body releases a hormone called endorphins which make you feel happy. So every time you exercise you are helping to beat your depression in a very natural and healthy way.

3. Drink green tea
Recently I wrote about the health benefits of tea and in that post I mentioned that tea is a very helpful antidepressant. Green tea in particular is said to be very good for the mind.

The best green tea to buy are those from Japan and Central China. Green tea needs a certain temperature to grow properly and it seems as though these ancient cultures know exactly where to get the best green tea.

4. Avoid coffee
Coffee agitates your mind. It can cause you to feel anxious stressed and depressed. The problem with this one is that I know that most of my readers drink coffee. And according to the poll that we ran some of you drink a LOT of coffee!

If you are feeling down this winter I would like you to try cutting back on the coffee. Switch to green tea and watch the changes that occur in your mood and how you feel. I guarantee that after the initial slump of getting over coffee you will feel much better.

5. Keep eating fruit
When summer comes around we get a burst of amazing fruits like mangoes, grapes, raspberries, melon and so on. And the hot weather makes you want to eat them! It is too hot for heavy meals so you start eating a lot more fruit. And fruit is a natural antidepressant.

But when winter floats around all the good fruit disappears and we start getting cravings for carbs and heavy fatty foods. We want to eat hot stuff, not cool fruits. This is a bit of a shame. Try to keep your fruit intake up in the winter if you start to feel a bit down. I try to eat a fruit salad for breakfast everyday and I swear it is what keeps me healthy and well.

6. Be aware of the depression
One technique that you can use is to be aware of the depression creeping in during the winter months. The simple act of just being aware of it will actually make it feel a whole lot more manageable.

This is a simple meditation technique called mindfulness. All you are doing is becoming aware of the thoughts and watching them come and go. You don’t need to judge them or try to conceal them – just observe them and let them go. This is a powerful way to combat depression.

Conclusion
Winter time is difficult for a lot of people. For many people the winter months mean depression and fatigue. But there are some things that you can do. Try the tips I have suggested above and see how they work for you. But, remember, if you think your winter blues are getting worse you should always see you doctor.




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12 Comments »

Comment by shivani
2008-11-18 06:22:07

hi TDM
very useful article.
I get winter blues and i feel very cold(!!!) and dont like to get up in the morning to cook for the family…
exercise…hmm..very difficult…heheh…will walking up and down the stairs count as exercise in winters?
coffee…hardly drink any…i am having warm water instead at office..keeps my water intake up and its light so we tend to drink more(although the trips to washroom initially can be disturbing)
keep up the good work sunshine!

regards,
shivani

Comment by The Daily Minder
2008-11-18 06:26:33

Thanks Shivani. Its always nice to read your comments.

TDM

 
 
Comment by Chandler Bluesoul
2008-11-18 09:54:18

Awesome article, I already feel better about the season coming! It seems like when the cold comes the depression comes with it! Thank you for your great blog to cheer me up!

 
Comment by Mickey
2008-11-18 12:50:49

Luckily the winter blues aren’t too rough here in Florida, but your tips look like they’d help anyone with depression, not just the winter variety. I’ve heard that in Alaska, winter depression is such a serious issue that they have govt sponsored recreational activities and counseling services just to combat it, risk of suicide is quite high during that time in the real northern states. Its scary stuff. I personally don’t know why people would be willing to live in a place that’s so cold, but I’m a Florida boy, and I’ve heard people say the same thing about this place that is so hot :-) All perspective I guess.

~Mickey

Comment by The Daily Minder
2008-11-18 12:55:06

Do you guys even have a winter down there?

Comment by Mickey
2008-11-18 12:59:44

Oh yeah, it freezes where I am about 6-10 times a year. It averages in the 40’s or so, maybe early 50’sF throughout the winter, having days that dip down into the 30’s. We rarely have it below freezing once the sun comes up, but at night it can get really cold, I mean colder than one would expect of Florida. I’m in northern Florida, so its colder here, southern Florida probably doesn’t see many temps below 50 throughout the winter. We have snow flurries about every 2 years or so, but nothing that sticks on the ground. I didn’t think Australia got very cold, unless maybe in the real southern part, but I’m probably mistaken :-)

~Mickey

Comment by The Daily Minder
2008-11-18 13:01:34

I live in South Australia where the hills often go below 0 degrees CELCIUS in the winter! It is cold.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Cesar Moves
2008-11-18 22:44:09

I can relate to this ! , I’ve heard some goody things about this blog ! I bookmarked it on my favorites and will visit it again for more interesting posts like this one, Thanks

Comment by The Daily Minder
2008-11-18 23:35:47

Hi Cesar.

Thanks for the compliment. I hope you enjoy what you read here. Looking forward to seeing you around again.

TDM

 
 
Comment by Miss Attica
2008-11-19 12:12:11

Thanks for good advice! I do get the blues during winter, and I will certainly consider trying some of these.

Comment by The Daily Minder
2008-11-26 02:35:32

Good luck Miss Attica!

 
 
Comment by Carole Heath
2009-11-22 20:29:43

This is a very interesting article regarding depression and the winter month’s there are so many very good tips to help people through this time. I have a friend who suffers with SAD and she has trouble during the winter month’s, she has just purchased one of those light boxes which she said does help, in countries like Norway, Sweden, Greenland, where there isn’t much light during the winter month’s many people get this complaint. The dark morning and when it gets dark early in the evening also has an impact on mood I think, but you must try to keep active if you can, the winter month’s soon pass and hopefully the brighter weather will come and that makes people feel much better and more cheerful.

 
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