The temperature has dropped, the daylight hours have decreased, and for some this means the Winter Blues has set in. This can be overwhelming especially for those battling the physical and mental downside the change in season while supporting those with mental health challenges. Here are three ways to combat the Winter Blues as a lived experience professional:
1. Be Productive. Keeping busy and being productive can aid in fighting the Winter Blues. The sense of accomplishment that comes from productivity releases dopamine, a hormone that plays a role in learning and motivation. Other ways to get dopamine include exercising, reading a book, or spending time in nature. Productivity doesn’t always mean doing something that will add another check to your to-do list such as completing documentation or a training. Sometimes it means doing something that your future self and those that you support will thank you for later, such as spending time with a pet.
2. Sunlight. Sunlight is vital for those fighting the Winter Blues because when there is less sunlight, the body produces less serotonin. A deficit in serotonin can lead to a decrease in mood, sleep, appetite, and memory. Get outside during daylight hours as much as possible. You can do this by taking walks through your neighborhood during your breaks if you work from home, having lunch outside or even meeting with your youth and families outside. A nice change in scenery can do wonders not only for you, but those you support. After all, you are probably not the only one struggling, so bundle up and get outside!
3. Stay connected. During the cold months, it’s easy to want to stay in and sleep and eat more than usual. Do not fall victim to those desires by staying connected to friends, family, and co-workers. One way to stay connected is to keep up with any holiday traditions with friends and family. If you don’t have any, take the time and put forth the effort to create some. If you’ve lost family members in recent years, be intentional about creating new memories with those who are still with you. Staying connected prevents isolation and helps fight the Winter Blues.