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6 Tips for Avoiding Seasonal Depression

November 1, 2013

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Fall is a wonderful time of year. The leaves are changing, apples are in season, and we get to break out the pea coats and scarves! However, with this fantastic season comes the not so fantastic and very dramatic weather change. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, that means shorter days, a lot less sunshine, and days upon days of rainy weather!

The clocks are rolling back this weekend, so instead of throwing in the towel and hibernating for winter, I will be using these simple tricks to beat the cold weather blues and start looking on the bright side. They could help you do the same! 

Invest in good lighting

A big part of what makes the changing seasons so hard is losing that precious hour of light at the end of the day. It’s really hard to leave work in the dark and it makes finding the motivation to get anything done at home impossible. This is where good lighting comes in to save the day! Bright and inviting lights in the common areas of your home like the kitchen or living room can help you forget the weather and give you the energy you need to make dinner and catch up with your family or friends instead of ordering take-out and parking it on the couch. You might even be interested in purchasing a UV lamp, which mimics the effect of sunlight and encourages the production of vitamin D.

Stay on top of your schedule

When it’s dark and cold outside, the only thing that I ever want to do is curl up on the couch with a good book and a bowl of soup. It’s really hard to find the motivation to go to the gym or even get together with friends! Not to mention the shorter days make it extra hard to get out of bed in the morning for work! I find that putting myself on a fairly strict schedule without any time for moping around or feeling down keeps me upbeat and focused during the winter months. 

Get outside as much as possible

Even if it just means a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, taking advantage of sunlight is really important. Instead of hanging around inside, layer up and head out for a brisk walk. Who knows, you may even feel motivated to go for a sloshy run in the rain!

Hit the gym

If it turns out that a run in the rain isn’t really your thing (I’m right there with you!) then take your workout to the gym instead. This will keep you on track and make sure you get moving regularly. Exercising prompts the body to produce natural endorphins. No matter what the weather is like, you can’t help but feel happy after a hard workout at the gym!

Increase your daily dose of vitamin D

Regular vitamin D intake is an essential part of staying healthy. In the summer months, we usually get a large dose from the sun, and the need to take supplements is greatly minimized. In the winter months (and possibly year round in rainier parts of the world, ahem… here) it’s a good idea to increase your daily dosage of vitamin D. Your body needs it to property absorb other nutrients like calcium and it helps you stay focused and happy.  I recommend taking at least 1000 IU a day. It sounds like a lot, but don’t be alarmed! You can buy it in 1000 IU capsules so you only need to take one a day - your body will thank you!

Take note of the little things

Just this week I was feeling pretty down about getting out of bed at 6am knowing that I was up a good hour and a half before the sun. However, when I was driving across one of the many bridges in Portland I noticed the sun rising behind Mount Hood casting vibrant hues of pink and purple over the city skyline. It was breathtaking, and it made me wonder how many sunrises like this I missed during the summer months when I wasn’t up at dawn. It’s so important to recognize these moments and appreciate the beauty that fall and winter bring. If you try to do this every day – maybe it’s a rainbow in between rain clouds or a field of freshly fallen snow –I promise you’ll kick those winter blues to the curb in no time!