Avoiding Winter Depression (SAD Syndrome)

Many people find the winter months the hardest. After the excitement and entertainment of Thanksgiving through the New Year, many find that they seem to need a vacation from their holiday vacation. I’ll admit that I’ve been one who has had a span of days where I’ve spent more time on the couch, in front of the TV, than off of it, and had blamed my morose mood on the shorter days and colder weather.

However, what about when it becomes more than just a day or two of gloom? What happens when our dull outlook on things extends for not just days or weeks, but throughout the entire winter season? Many people suffer from seasonal depression (SAD syndrome) and find that their professional, personal, and family life can all take a dive while they spend more and more time in bed, or on the couch, and let life pass them by.

As these people’s careers go downhill and their bosses start to take notice, by handing over promotions and raises to those who stay at the top of their game, many of them wonder why God isn’t blessing them, or why luck just isn’t in their favor. The answer to both of these questions is very simple.

If you believe in luck, then you have to know that luck is more a matter of when your personal and professional preparation meets an opportunity in which you are able to excel through your earnest work. If you believe in God, or a higher power, then you have to know that in order for you to be blessed, you have to be doing things to provide blessings to come. If you are sitting at home on the couch, the only way God could possibly bless you is if your favorite show has a marathon week, or the pillow under your head somehow becomes softer and fluffier.

If your effort decreases, your chances of succeeding in any aspect of your life drops considerably too. Here are some ideas of how to get through the cold winter months without the gloom and laziness that might normally accompany the season:

Personal

Start with yourself and, by starting with you, one of the biggest things I mean is to get off the couch and take care of yourself. As one who has had good winters and bad winters, the difference is always a result of the goals I have set for myself. I’m not suggesting your New Year’s Resolution should be to lose 20 pounds. Most of the time that new gym membership never gets used, but you can resolve to set small goals to improve your mind, spirit and body this winter. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut and you’re going insane with Cabin fever, you can get some great exercise DVDs. Even cheesy 80’s ones, that are surprisingly entertaining as well as a great workout, can help you burn off some stress and winter depression.

Another great thing to do is to take these months to improve your education and get ahead at work. I’ve had friends who are stay-at-home moms who have taken classes at a local community college to try to slowly finish their degrees, or even just take a class that they are interested in. Even online classes can help you feel like you are getting away from the house by taking you to ancient Rome, the world wars, a chemistry classroom, or help you delve into the works of Shakespeare and Milton. The busier your mind stays during these months, the less time you’ll spend feeling bad about yourself!

Professional

I’ve known many people who have found that they aren’t particularly challenged at their current jobs. Instead of trying to improve their education or job skills, like through continuing their education and the online classes I mentioned earlier, they become bitter about the situation and sink even below the level of their basic responsibilities in the workplace. A great way to improve your career and also to improve your mood during the winter is to stay busy at work. If you feel like your motivation is dwindling, then talk to your boss about possibly taking on other clients, projects, or even leading a team. This will not only be a great way to prepare yourself for future opportunities for growth or an increased salary later, but the extra work will keep your mind in the right place and help you see your own full potential!

Family

Just because you can’t go on those picnics you used to love in the warmer months, it definitely doesn’t mean your family time is scuppered. While you are busier at work with your new projects or in a new educational endeavor, you can still plan quality time with your family. This is a season that offers the opportunity to go to museums, concerts, art exhibits, and have cosy family dinners around the fireplace. One thing my family did as I was growing up, is choose a classic book to read as a family each night. It was normally a pretty lengthy one, so just a chapter or two a night would have us finish it in a month or two. My younger siblings who couldn’t then read still got into the story and I always found it much more fun and fulfilling than any TV show. Turning off the TV will help your family come together and talk.

This winter, stay too busy to get depressed and find new ways to make you and your family life more loving, more enjoyable, and more fulfilling!

Article by Lucy Markham

Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and worked as a career and academic counselor for several years before returning to school to pursue her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Utah.

One thought on “Avoiding Winter Depression (SAD Syndrome)

  1. Dale M Kleimola

    One other way of dealing with SAD is to purchase a “sun light” light which produces the same kind of light which comes naturally through sun light. I live in one of the cloudiest areas of the United States. The lack of sun light sets of my depression and, to a limited extent, anxiety disorders. When the sun returns, my mood changes, I’m more relaxed and more energized.
    The light is not horribly expensive and can be found at discount prices on auction and other sites.

    If the “blues” continue for a month or longer, an appointment with a therapist or a visit to your MD is important. The “blues,” can turn to major depression. Early intervention is the key to a quick resolution of the problem. The more depression lingers without treatment, the likelihood of it turning into chronic or major depression increases. Trust me, you definitely want to avoid that road!

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