Winter has been depressing people since the beginning of time. From Ancient Babylon to Ancient Rome, our long-ago ancestors who were down in the dumps even invented raucous mid-winter festivals like the feast of the Son of Isis and Saturnalia to cheer themselves up during the cold winter months.
We have our own holiday parties these days, but if you’re so depressed you can’t put on your clothes or get off the couch, let alone get dressed up for a party, what do you do?
Move Your Body
It can be very tempting to spend winter days curled up watching your favorite movies or reading a book. As cozy and comforting as that sounds, lazing on the couch will do little to combat your depression. The endorphins that buzz through your brain once you get your body moving are a natural and healthy way to fight feeling low.
Although the weather outside may feel like an excuse to hibernate, a short walk will do the trick. Even just putting on some favorite music and dancing around the living room will energize you.
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Sugar is a delicious yet deceptive tool often used in fighting the blues. My weakness is cupcakes. Sure, there is the moment when I bite into that cupcake that my mind is wiped clean of any and all negativity. All I can think about is that sweet, sweet frosting. Then, even after the cupcake is gone, there is that fake and fabulous sugar high (usually accompanied by the other false high I get from the coffee I probably washed the cupcake down with). Inevitably, comes the crash.
Beyond the fact that I am left alone with only a few crumbs and the harsh realization that, in a season during which I get less chance to exercise, I have just consumed something that is not going to make my jeans fit any better, there is the actual science behind why sugar is no way to combat depression. Consuming sugar found in things like my cupcakes releases the brain chemical serotonin, which makes you “feel happy,” but which also signals your pancreas to start pumping out insulin, in turn causing your bloodstream to absorb the sugar for later use. Hence the resulting sugar crash, and the craving for more sugar. Not a pretty cycle.
Spend Time with Friends
Go ahead and say it: duh. Still, it bears mentioning that spending time with friends is a valuable tool in fighting depression because it gets us out and about as well as outside of ourselves. Once again, it is so much easier to use crummy weather as an excuse to hole up in our own little worlds, which can lead to vicious cycles of thoughts that are difficult to break out of on our own.
Support from friends and loved ones is imperative in any kind of healing journey, whether it be severe depression or just a case of the winter blues.
One of the best tools for fighting depression is being conscious of it. Knowing your triggers and being aware of the early signs that you are falling into a rut is helpful in that you can either use one of the above tips (or whatever you’ve found on your own that works for you, of course) to stop it before it’s encompassed you, or you can let the thoughts come, acknowledge them, and just observe them without judging.
Of course, everyone gets a little grumpy during winter. What with the short days, the cold weather, the stress of the holidays, and the ever-present insistence that everyone be merry, it’s no wonder. Still, if you find your depressive state is getting out of control and interfering with your life, you should seek help at a qualified depression treatment center.
The good news about depression is that, with support, it is highly treatable. You can have your life back.