7 tips to fight against this damn seasonal depression

Do you often feel morose, irritable, and without energy at this time? You are not alone. With the transition to winter time taking place on the night of Saturday 30 to Sunday 31 October and the days that are getting shorter, the winter depression is booming.

According to Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and co-host of the radio show “The Web,” winter blues are usually characterized by a lack of energy and a tendency to irritability, sadness, and apathy.

Dr. Marc Leavey, an internist at Mercy Medical Center in New York, explains that “some [people] are more sensitive than others to the seasonal changes that cause winter depression,” such as cold and shorter days. Dr. Klapow also cites a lack of activity, changes in diet or exercise habits, stress related to the approach of the holidays, financial problems, sudden bereavement, or family problems as all potential reasons.

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However, winter blues should not be confused with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is also often referred to as “seasonal depression”. According to our psychologist, simple depression is less severe and less long-lasting than SAD, whose symptoms can include sadness, irritability, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, feelings of discouragement, problems concentrating, loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed, and suicidal ideation.

“This is a real health problem that can certainly find its source in the same environmental conditions as the simple seasonal blues, but remains much more serious and requires medical care,” insists Dr. Leavey.

If during the autumn and winter seasons you experience a feeling of depression or discouragement, the doctor recommends turning to a professional – general practitioner or mental health specialist– instead of making your own diagnosis. “It’s better to see your doctor [to] make sure it’s just a little depression, not a proper depression.”

After confirming that you only suffer from a seasonal blues stroke, several simple strategies can help you to find a smile. Here are some tips recommended by experts.

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1- Expose yourself daily to natural light

Under the blow of depression, one may be tempted to stay hibernating on the sofa, but for Dr. Leavey, it is essential to continue to go out to expose oneself to the sun… even if it seems to subscribers absent.

Natural light “helps regulate the sleep-wake rhythm, which can be disrupted when days get shorter,” says Dr. Klapow. It can also boost the production of serotonin, which contributes to a positive state of mind.

Be sure to spend at least twenty minutes a day outside, even when the weather is detestable. For example, you can walk to work, have lunch outside or go to the café during your break.

What to do about seasonal depression

2- Make your sleep a priority

Insufficient or disturbed sleep is an important factor in depression, says Dr. Klapow, who recommends sleeping seven to eight hours a night, without exception.

“Resting and returning to a regular sleep cycle has a restorative effect that helps stabilize the emotional state,” he says.

3- Do at least a quarter of an hour of exercise per day

We are much more reluctant to exercise when it’s cold, but according to Dr. Klapow, physical exercise can have an impressive impact on our energy and the way we think about life. Preliminary research confirms this: a study in the journal Pain Medicine found that ten minutes of exercise could be enough to improve morale and reduce anxiety.

If you can’t fit an hour of sport into your calendar, block yourself fifteen minutes for a few push-ups and jumping jacks before your morning shower, a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) session during your lunch break, a short walk in the afternoon, or a little dynamic yoga in the evening.

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4- Illuminate your bedroom and office

Acting on your environment will help rebalance your emotions and alleviate your depression, says Dr. Leavey. If you’re having trouble getting up in the morning, try to find lighting that mimics natural light for your bedroom. Dawn simulators, for example, rely on a timer system to gradually illuminate a room; their effectiveness is demonstrated against the winter blues.

Then tackle your workplace. If possible, place your desk near the window for better sun exposure. Otherwise, opt for a bronze lamp: it will illuminate a workstation that is too dark by creating an atmosphere closer to that of daylight, far from too aggressive fluorescent lighting. Another tip: put green in your space. Studies suggest that surrounding yourself with indoor plants could alleviate psychological and biological stress.

5- Rethink your diet

“The food we prefer has an impact on our energy, sleep, and immune system,” warns Dr. Klapow.

A pastry at breakfast or a break at your favorite fast-food restaurant will certainly bring you comfort at the moment, but regular consumption of this type of food can harm your health – and even your mental health, in the long run. Studies show that fast and unsent healthy eating, such as excessive alcohol and sugar consumption (especially in sodas and desserts), is associated with increased vulnerability to depression.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up your guilty little pleasures all season long! Change your habits little by reducing industrial products, preferring water to soda, limiting your alcohol consumption, and introducing vegetables and whole grains into all your menus.

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