Stress Management Strategies to Combat Winter Blues

Those dreary days seem to continue endlessly.  Time for some stress management strategies to make it through this time of year.  The Winter Blues is a real syndrome.   Mental Health professionals have termed this syndrome, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  If you think it sounds like a type of depression you are absolutely correct--it is a form of depression that takes place around the same time each year with the change of seasons and fewer hours of exposure to sunlight. 

Even if you are inside most of the day with artificial light, you can still suffer from the lack of sunlight.  All of those gray days takes its toll on us.  Doctors think there may be a connection between Winter Blues and lower levels of serotonin, which in more severe cases, these lower levels can trigger clinical depression.  Employing stress management strategies can be the answer to a healthy happier winter season. 

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The Winter Blues affects 4 women for every one man, and it tends to affect younger people in their 20's and 30's.  This is a difficult season to handle emotionally; it can be difficult for anyone to get up in the morning and travel to work in the dark, and then at the end of the workday, turn around and travel back home in the dark.  That can be depressing for anyone.

People who suffer from Winter Blues often experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Increased weight gain from increased appetite
  • Increased feeling tired and lethargic
  • Difficulty waking in the morning with shorter amounts of daylight
  • Difficulty in ability to focus
  • Feeling anxious or being unusually irritable
  • Difficulty performing usually enjoyable tasks

Try these stress management strategies to combat winter blues

Get moving!

Participate in some aerobic exercise classes.  Low to moderate intensity physical activity can trigger positive changes in your immune system and boost your physical wellbeing and symptoms of depression, anxiety and anger can be minimized.   Exercise reduces stress for women and helps to combat depression. 

Add more complex carbohydrates to your diet.

Trade in the chocolates and sodas for a healthy portion of pasta and rice.  Anyone suffering from the winter blues should increase intake of complex carbohydrates as well as simple carbohydrates found in fruits and fruit juices. What a delicious stress management strategy.

Try aromatherapy.

Different scents can really change your moods and aromatherapy can assist in lowering stress.  Lemon grass and peppermint, lift your spirit while lavender and chamomile have a more soothing effect.  I try to have a scented candle or diffuser in my home office during the winter months, just for a mood boost.  Too many grey days and my concentration level falters.  Nice smelling scents and a nice live sweet smelling plant really have a positive effect.

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Try light therapy.

If you find that these Winter Blues seriously send you into depression, you might find that your physician may suggest you using a light box for 15-20 minutes a day.  Exposure to bright light can be found with a portable desktop light box.  Place it on your desk or in front of your stationary bicycle to get the adequate amount of exposure.

Because the Winter Blues are seasonal, the effects are not as intense as the effects of depression.   Try to guard against the blues with  strategies that work for you.  Don't forget to take care of your health and stay connected with others in this time of hibernation.  Hibernation is for bears, we humans still need to be connected with each other!

Stress Management for Women

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