The days are shorter, the temperature is dropping, and there is plenty of white fluffy stuff flying around – yup, it must be winter! Some people love this season because it’s a time to cuddle, play winter sports, and celebrate the holidays. But for others, winter doesn’t bring just lower temperatures, it also brings low moods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the term describing seasonal low mood and depression. To treat winter-induced SAD associated with lack of natural light, a light box is often recommended. But aside from shorter days and insufficient sunlight, there are many other causes that could be contributing to your moodiness. Understanding what the cause of your winter blues is can help you boost your mood and your energy.
Reasons for your low mood in the winter
You don’t move enough: Maybe winter sports aren’t your thing, so you stay cooped up indoors, but this lack of activity can take a toll on your mood. That is because when we move around, our body produces the feel-good hormones which help perk up our spirits.
You’re worrying about money: With holiday gift shopping that just seems non-stop, money woes get amplified as the festive season kicks in. Setting up a budget or opting for cheaper gifts can help you stress out less (at least financially).
You feel obligated: Sometimes saying “no” is actually the best thing you can do for your sanity and well-being. Feeling constantly obligated to attend functions and parties and always saying “yes” can be mentally exhausting, not to mention that it comes along with plenty of stress. Don’t forget to make time for yourself during the winter months. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to say “no.”
You’ve fallen off your diet: Most of the times, holidays inevitably equate with plenty of food, which unfortunately isn’t always the healthiest. Eating foods high in fat and sugar can really mess with your mood, so make a plan to eat as healthy as possible. Sure, you can treat yourself, but try to keep it moderate.
You’re overdoing it with the booze: In addition to overeating, drinking alcohol, too, tends to be in excess around the holidays – and all that drinking is definitely affecting your mood. Try to limit your drinking or alternate your alcoholic beverages with water to stay hydrated.
You don’t go out: Just like how overscheduling yourself can ruin your mood, so can turning into a hermit and being antisocial. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of mental health problems, so try finding a happy compromise between social time and “me-time”.
You have unrealistic expectations: Sure, it would be nice if everything went perfectly according to the plan, but as we know, it’s not how life goes, so bumps are bound to happen down the road. Beating yourself up over these glitches can take a toll on your mood. Creating realistic expectations and adapting a go-with-the-flow attitude can help reduce stress and keep your mood in check.
These are just some reasons for low mood in the winter months. If you don’t identify any of the above as a cause for your low mood, you may want to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. The sooner a mental illness is diagnosed, the more successful your treatment will be.