By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC
Baby it’s cold outside!
Do you find yourself feeling internally just a little different during the winter?
Maybe it’s the cool crisp air.
Or it’s how the sun seems to set just a little bit too early.
The change in season that comes with the winter months creates a change in mood. During the cooler months there is less sunlight and shorter days.
This means that we absorb less vitamin D, which helps to regulate mood and reduce depression. We also may spend less time engaging with nature, catching up with friends, or exercising.
It’s almost the perfect recipe for things to go in the wrong direction.
Please know that the term, the winter blues, is strongly connected to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Season Affective Disorder is more severe than the common winter blues. For the purpose of this reading, we will stick to the winter blues.
Common Symptoms of Winter Blues
- Low motivation.
- Low energy.
- Irregular sleep. Such as sleeping too little.
- Irregular appetite. Such as overeating.
- Such as spending less time with friends or reducing typical social engagements.
If you are experiencing the winter blues, I want to share with you 4 coping skills that you can practice. Each give you support in addressing the negative symptoms and challenges that come with the winter blues.
Practicing Gratitude Daily
This exercise promotes positive thoughts and feelings, reduces stress levels, and brings you calmness. Overtime you’ll notice a healthy shift in your wellness.
Use the journal prompts below as a guide:
- Who in your life are you grateful for and why?
- What part of your daily routine are you thankful for?
- List three body parts that you are grateful for and why?
- What music are you grateful to have and why?
- Write a letter to yourself expressing gratitude.
Actively Engaging in Exercise
Exercising promotes an endless list of positive benefits. The winter blues tend to cause a person to feel lethargic and unmotivated. If you can, try to spend more days than not engaging in movement.
You can go for a walk, lift weights, or partake in a sport such as recreational tennis. Positive benefits of exercise that directly address the negative symptoms of the winter blues include:
- Improvement in mood.
- Feel stronger.
- Increase in energy.
- Healthy blood circulation.
- Increase intake of rich oxygen cells.
- Increase in motivation.
Level Up your Mental Health
The shift in weather patterns during the winter months can often lead a person to experience a lower mood, a struggle to be around others, or difficulty getting out of bed. These symptoms directly impact mental health and can overtime progress to more severe symptoms. To level up your mental health, you can work with a counselor near you.
Benefits to working with a counselor:
- Develop healthy coping skills.
- Understand triggers.
- Create healthy boundaries.
- Learn to accept feelings and process them constructively.
- Create healthy support systems.
- Retrain your brain.
- Develop healthy habits and behaviors.
There is self-care and then there is proactive self-care. The key difference is in your active role in engaging in self-care.
Have you ever felt that you needed to recharge?
Yet, you kept moving through life. You kept waking up and doing your routine. All while knowing that your batteries needed to recharge.
Proactive self-care is the active role in knowing your mind and body. Being aware of when it is time to recharge the batteries.
Ways to practice self-care include:
- Getting a healthy amount of sleep.
- Work and life balance.
- Listening to your body.
- Avoiding negative coping behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.
As you walk away from this reading, I want to first thank you for devoting time to your mental health and wellness. Keep an eye on the winter months and how you react to them. I hope that the coping skills shared support you in life.
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