With the parties over, the holiday decorations stored and the Christmas music gone from the airwaves, an estimated one in four of us falls into the winter doldrums—that mild sluggishness, don’t-really-want-to-get-out-of-bed feeling that sometimes persists right up until the spring thaw.
About 11 million Americans, psychologists say, experience a more severe form of winter gloom, the seasonal affective disorder aptly acronymed SAD.
Either way, the common syndrome is caused by sensitivity to the lack of sunlight, and the shorter days of winter that disrupts our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock.
People who find themselves severely distressed should see their doctor. For those who experience a milder case of winter blahs, psychologists suggest the following remedies:
Eat healthy. Whether or not you put on a few pounds over the holiday, making the effort to eat healthy now—eating quality food on a regular schedule—typically results in a happier mood and increased productivity as well as weight loss.
Exercise. Activity is important in combating cabin fever because it reduces stress, promotes healthy sleeping, improves mood and boosts energy. Find your bliss indoors or outdoors, high-intensity or low-intensity, from yoga, workouts, skiing, ice skating—even shoveling snow.
Do something nice for yourself. Whether it’s reading a good book, catching up with Netflix, taking a workshop, enjoying a spa day or indulging in a hobby, carve out time in your schedule and make it your time and no one else’s.
Socialize. Pick up the phone and call someone, make lunch dates and email or text with friends and family. Best of all, engage in a fun winter activity with friends. Aim for personal and enjoyable interactions.
Plan for spring. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Begin planning now for weekend getaways or a spring or summer vacation. Spruce up your space in time for spring entertaining. Get your body in shape for the beach. The spring season is on the way. Think about how you will enjoy it.
Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.