If you’re feeling a little low-energy lately, don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 5% of adults across the country suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is psychologists’ clinical term for “the winter blues.” A whopping 10-20% of us experience some symptoms of sadness in the winter months. Check your math—that’s up to 66 million people!
So you’re not alone. But since that may be cold comfort (no pun intended), rest assured there are a range of effective strategies to combat these feelings.
In the winter, the shorter days reduce your exposure to sunlight. And of course, the frigid air doesn’t help you feel motivated to go soak up the sun, even when it is shining. Luckily, evidence suggests that a powerful indoor lamp can trick our brains into receiving many of the benefits of sunlight. You only need about 20 minutes of direct exposure per day, according to The Mayo Clinic. Basking in natural sunlight (even through a window) is best, but it is good to know there are other options.
As a common recommendation for general health, this one seems obvious. But you might be surprised to learn that just a small amount of exercise goes a long way towards mental well-being. The CDC recommends trying out 30 minutes of low-intensity movement like walking, five days a week—and remember, it’s totally fine to do that on a treadmill, stationary bicycle, or around the halls.
The holiday season is a great example of wintertime’s unique potential for warm, cozy feelings. Researchers have been interested in this phenomenon, which the Danish refer to as “hygge.” It can involve something as simple as lighting a candle, baking, making tea, or other classic cold-weather pastimes, but a significant aspect of hygge is maintaining your social connections. Whether you enjoy scrapbooking, puzzles, or a good movie, winter is the perfect time to slow down and share your favorite cozy activities with friends or family.
Beating the winter blues can be especially challenging for older adults who are often alone. A senior living community is particularly helpful with keeping our loved ones engaged year-round, but if your senior lives alone, make sure to check in on him/her frequently.