Lifestyle

Feeling blue? It's not just you

Columnist Dawn Carson - File
Columnist Dawn Carson
— image credit: File

Winter is well upon us. With the holiday season over, the monotony of grey skies and rain can really get a person down. Some people are even troubled by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The lack of sunshine and Vitamin D literally makes them sad. It is a form of depression that is increasingly common in the fall and winter months.

Thankfully there are ways to combat the doom and gloom that sometimes accompanies the post-holiday season. Having experienced SAD myself, I have found a few things that really helped me minimize its effects. Here are some simple things you can add to your routine that may be helpful and even fun.

Laughter: It lifts your mood and alleviates symptoms of depression. I often watch sitcoms and funny movies to boost my spirits. There are many websites devoted to humour. I created a board on Pinterest of things that I find funny, and anytime I'm feeling a little low I can look at it, get my giggle on and instantly feel happier. There is even something called Laughter Yoga available in some communities. Do what you can to laugh regularly and reap the benefits.

Exercise: We have all heard that it helps a body feel good. It also boosts serotonin levels and that is your happiness hormone. So get moving. I love to walk outside to get the added benefit of fresh air. If the thought of the rain makes you cringe, get a bright umbrella. I bought a vivid yellow one. It feels like I'm walking under my own personal sun now. Hot yoga, lifting weights and swimming are other great forms of exercise. Choose something you like and do it regularly.

Colour: One of the easiest ways to battle the blues is to incorporate more colour into your day. Fall and winter months often equate to wearing more grey, brown and black. Add a pop of colour with a red or purple shirt, a bright print, a vibrant tie. It feels good when we look at colourful things. You can also change up your home and office d├ęcor. Add a couple of orange cushions to your couch or a turquoise vase to your desk. You will be surprised at how much this can actually help.

Light: The lack of sunshine is the culprit, so it makes sense to add a little light to your life. Fire up some candles. Looking at a flame dancing around is a calming way to boost your mood. Put sparklers on a birthday cake. Make the most of those rare sunny days by getting outside. If SAD is a real problem for you, there are special light boxes you can use on a daily basis to bolster your melatonin and vitamin D levels. These therapeutic lights are full-spectrum, affecting you on a cellular level.

The winter blues are a reality for a lot of people. If you struggle with SAD or just feel a bit low, let friends and family members know. They can get you out of the house, distract you and make you feel better. It is always a good idea to have a support system of great people. Keep your chin up and remember Spring is on its way.

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