4 Ways To Combat Seasonal Depression

There’s no other way to say it: winters in Chicago are pretty darn cold. Thus it’s normal to start feeling ‘under the weather’ or face cabin fever during the wintertime. Not to mention the next wave of at-home orders or quarantines have forced many of us to stay inside without the option to face fresh air on a daily basis. This situation has a name, the aptly-titled SAD a.k.a. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Do you sleep a bit more during winter? Do you feel a bit lower in energy, or just not as excited to do stuff you’re usually into? Yep, you too could be letting the weather get you down…even if it’s just a little bit.

So we’ve got four ideas to help fight the Lake Michigan winter blues and get you feeling good again!

Fix #1: Exercise

Yeah, we know. It’s freezing. But exercise is the easiest way to help reverse a sad winter mood. But how to do it? The obvious idea is to sweat it out indoors, either with something like a treadmill or Peloton…or maybe hitting the gym. 

But if you don’t have those options? Think about going ice skating. The Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon is almost always open, and most local rinks have public skate times. Call up a local YMCA and maybe hit the pool or the weight room over there. The Y is usually cheaper than most gyms.

Even if it just means getting out for a short amount of time, think about taking a walk during your lunch break at work. That’s a great way to at least get a little bit of daylight in your life, as we all know it gets dark quite early on the Great Lakes.

Fix #2: Get More Vitamin D

I know, as mentioned above this is quite tuff during Chicago winters. Try your best to get out around noontime or early mornings, as that’s your best chance for some sun.

Some people say you should take Vitamin D supplements or even hit up a UV sauna. Studies have shown that supplemental vitamin D doesn’t really help with depression, and artificial sunlight comes with its own boxload of problems! So just try and wake up early and get your vitamin D the natural way.

Fix #3: Work On A Sleep Schedule

This brings us to the third fix: sleep. A lot of us sleep too much during the winter, and to be quite honest it makes a lot of sense. On weekends or off-days, you wake up and see only cold, grey, snow, or a combination of the 3. So you simply crash out for some more sleep, because why not?

This isn’t always good. It’s best to get on a ‘sleep routine,’ as quality sleep hygiene improves SAD symptoms. The biggest way to do this is to do your best to try and stay off screens when it’s actually time for bed. Not saying don’t binge some Netflix, but do it on the couch and reserve the bedroom or sleeping area for actual sleep. Also a good idea to avoid a lot of caffeine or alcohol before bed, as both can mess up sleep patterns.

Fix #4: “Trick” Yourself  

Have you ever heard of light therapy?

The “trick” is to be in the vicinity of a special bright light for 20 or 30 minutes right after you wake up in the morning. This style of light is specifically meant to reproduce the light found outdoors and helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. In other words, the light will make you more tired when you’re supposed to sleep and keep you awake without coffee when its daytime. You can order these lights from Amazon, or some drugstores and places like Target carry them. In other words, not all artificial stuff is bad!

Hope this article helped, and good luck this winter. Get out in the snow, join a team, go bowling, go skating…anything you can do to fight the winter blues!



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