Once the excitement of the holidays passes and there are a few more months of cold and dark ahead, it’s time to think of ways to beat the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is no joke — especially for those whose sadness triggers addiction. You can beat the winter blues naturally with these easy-to-follow tips.
When the idea of going outside in winter makes you want to curl up under a blanket, think of a Swedish proverb: “There is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes.” Bundle yourself up and get yourself moving — countless independent studies have observed the positive effects going outside has on stress, mental focus and depression. The good news is that if you exercise outdoors, you won’t be cold for long. It only takes a few minutes to warm up, and chances are you’ll be surprised at how beautiful a winter landscape can be.
Change Your Diet
If you’ve already committed to eating a diet comprised of healthy nutrients, you know the effects junk food has on your waistline and mood. Although it’s true that chocolate can relieve anxiety, be careful how much you eat. Carbohydrates may give you a temporary lift, but they are associated with higher rates of anxious and depressed feelings. Plus, if you’re not exercising, the resulting weight gain is sure to kill your mood.
Get Some Exercise
Once you get your diet in place, it’s time to add exercise to your daily regimen. A Harvard University study found brisk walking most days of the week improves mild to moderate depression. If you exercise in bright light, you’re even better off — in addition to mental health, walking outdoors improves social functioning and vitality.
See a Friend
Isolating yourself in your home during the cold winter months might sound cozy at first, but isolation is a key factor in relapse. Get out and see friends instead, or invite buddies over to watch sports or a movie. Keep yourself active and social. Having events to look forward to keeps you cheerful and makes the weeks go faster.
Change Your Environment
What better way to perk up than to change your environment? Buy a light box and give yourself access to bright sunlight, even when it’s snowing. Try keeping your curtains open overnight so you can wake up with the sun. If you can, splurge on heat and keep your thermostat set a little warmer so it’s not so torturous to get out of bed.
Move your furniture around so your favorite chair is next to the window — extra points if you have an interesting view you love. Play your favorite tunes when you’re home, too — music is a proven mood-booster. And if you can’t stand the winter a moment longer, plan a trip out of town. Having a warm vacation to look forward to when you’re suffering from SAD can be a bright beacon at the end of a long, dark and cold tunnel.
For more information about beating addiction, contact 12 Keys Rehab today.