Adorable pug cuddled up in a blanket on a bed. Winter blues - blog post for Sonshine FM.

Winter can be a real downer, sometimes making us feel sad. What exactly is this feeling? It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Fortunately, there are ways to combat the winter blues. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Marny Lishman, explains: “What some people may find in this kind of grey, colder weather is that there’s a shift in their mood. They might have symptoms of depression that only come during the winter months.”

Recognizing the Winter Blues

Many experience low energy, social withdrawal, trouble sleeping, irritability, and a feeling of hopelessness. Self-awareness is the first step in recognizing these shifts. A lack of sunlight can significantly affect our mood. “It’s not only to do with the lack of vitamin D from reduced sunlight exposure, but we also change our behaviors. We stay inside more, sleep longer, and avoid outdoor activities.” These behavioral changes contribute to a low mood.

Combatting the Winter Blues with Physical Activity

Maintaining physical activity during winter is crucial. “One of the cures for the winter blues is continuing the activities you do in the summer months. Keep up your routine, whether it’s going to the gym or other outdoor activities,” Dr. Lishman emphasizes. Physical activity is a natural mood booster and can alleviate symptoms of depression.

Expert Tips for Boosting Mood and Energy

  • Get Outside: Even if you have to bundle up, exposure to natural sunlight during daylight hours can improve your mood and energy levels.
  • Stay Active: Regular exercise is essential. Whether it’s a short walk or indoor exercises, staying active helps boost your mood.
  • Maintain a Sleep Schedule: While it’s tempting to sleep in, maintaining a regular sleep routine is important for mental health.
  • Stay Connected: Keep socializing, even if it’s just a coffee with friends or a phone call. Social support is crucial for good mental health.

Conclusion: Overcoming the Winter Blues

Combatting the winter blues is possible with self-awareness, sunlight exposure, physical activity, and social connections. As Dr. Lishman advises, “Get outside, stay active, maintain your sleep schedule, and stay connected with friends and family.” These steps can help keep your mood lifted and your mind merry and bright throughout the winter months.

Listen to Dr Marny Lishman’s full conversation with Johanne below!