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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / February 2019 / Beating the ‘Blah’ of Winter

Beating the ‘Blah’ of Winter

By: Sarah Willoughby, LCSW-R

Many people struggle with their mood throughout the winter, especially after the excitement of the holidays. You may feel down and that there isn’t much to look forward to. By February, it seems that many of us are tired of the cold and snow and are longing for the heat and sun of the warmer months. If you are experiencing the "winter blues", it can be helpful to identify strategies to help you cope better during these months. Here are some suggestions to help get you through the winter:

  1. Get active. Exercise increases endorphins and gets you off the couch. Take a walk outside, join a gym, go skiing, or try sledding. Engaging in even 15 minutes of physical activity can make you feel good and ward off those winter blues.
  2. Find a new indoor activity or hobby. Or devote time to a previously enjoyed activity that may have been pushed aside. Adding fun activities into your daily routine can be a way to enjoy your down time. Reading, knitting, completing crossword puzzles, trying a new recipe, or watching interesting movies can help pass the time when it feels too cold to leave the house.
  3. Start a project. Maybe you have been intending to clean out a closet or organize the cupboards. Having an activity to devote some of your time to can help keep you busy as well as provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Plan a vacation or something to look forward to. This could be a get together with friends, a party, or even your next vacation. After it is planned, anytime you need a pick-me-up you can think of your upcoming event, which is sure to bring a smile to your face.
  5. Stay social. Although it can be tempting to stay in the house and avoid going out in the cold, maintaining your social life helps bring continued happiness. Seeing your friends and family and engaging in fun activities together helps you make the most of your time. Motivation can often be lacking, so make a commitment to your friends and family—that just may be the thing that helps you get up and get yourself out there!

Many people have the winter blues or feel down on occasion. It is estimated that anywhere from 14 to 20 percent of American adults experience seasonal mood changes. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. Individuals with SAD start experiencing symptoms in the fall that continue through the winter months, zapping your energy, and making you feel moody.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Low energy
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

If you suspect that you may have SAD or if your symptoms aren't relenting, it is important that you reach out for assistance and support. You may contact your doctor or Behavioral Health Partners. Your health professional will walk you through your options, which might include a regimen of light therapy, psychotherapy, or medication.

Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression. Our team of mental health professionals can accurately assess your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment. To schedule an intake appointment, give us a call at (585) 276-6900.

Keith Stein | 2/1/2019

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