Tips on How to Avoid the "Winter Blues"
January 06, 2020
We are right in the midst of the winter season, and this is the time of year that many people notice a shift in their moods. Symptoms can include sadness, oversleeping, irritability, low energy, weight gain, and social withdrawal. This can often be referred to as seasonal depression, which typically starts in the fall or early winter, and subsides by spring time. If these symptoms seem relatable to you, take some time to review the tips below to help you cope. Kerry Hopson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, provides tips that can help to prevent the “winter blues". Share these tips with your loved ones, so we can all prioritize our mental health and well-being.
Get Connected. Isolation can increase negative feelings, so reach out to someone who can support you this time of year. There are many people in your social circle that may be feeling similarly, and it can be validating to talk about your symptoms openly with them. Consider attending a local community event, have someone over for dinner, join a book club or local gym, start a card/board game night, or choose a location to volunteer. Make sure to talk to your primary care doctor or local mental health provider if symptoms are worsening. They can also be a good support to you during this time of year as well.
Increase or maintain your daily structure. We are creatures of habit. Stick with a routine and keep yourself accountable for maintaining exercise. Even though the weather can be cold and dreary, bundle up and continue to go outside to get some sunlight. This form of Vitamin D can be essential for mood improvement. Make sure to set small, attainable goals for yourself. Simply write a daily list, and prioritize the most important tasks. Check-in with your progress regularly (daily or weekly), and rearrange your priorities if need be. Be careful with overinvolvement in social media and technology usage, since they may be time zappers, or may even give you a false sense of connection.
Stay in the moment. Pay attention to the little things, and focus on one task at a time. This is referred to as mindfulness, which allows us to fully appreciate our actions. Sometimes we don’t realize how many automatic processes are involved in our day-to-day routine. Make sure to check-in with yourself by pausing and asking, “what do I need right now?”, and notice any signs that you may be carrying more tension in your body. Try something new like meditation, stretching, and breathing exercises throughout your day. Remember, there’s an app for that!
Try something new. Spice it up and push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit. It’s a new year, so try setting short-term goals and intentions, instead of resolutions. Invest in yourself and reflect on how this year will be different than last. Consider taking an art or cooking class, seek out different ways to expand your knowledge base, go to your local library and check out a new book, learn a new skill, or start a new hobby.
Engage in self-care. This may look different from one person to the next. However, anything that will allow you to focus on your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, will help to decrease stress. Examples may include taking a hot bath, allowing yourself time for personal reflection, watching a funny video or listening to your favorite music, acknowledging your strengths, maintaining a healthy diet and sleep routine, cuddling with a pet, and spending time in nature. Remember to watch for self-judgment (“should have” and “could have” statements), and learn how to reframe persistent negative thought patterns. The quality of our thoughts also impacts our mood. Create an individual action plan, because you are worth it!
If you need additional help: Please consider reaching out to a professional if symptoms continue to worsen, which can include your primary care doctor or local mental health professional. Your insurance company may have a list of local in-network providers. If you start to have suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME or CONNECT to 741741.
Kerry Hopson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, providing behavioral health consultations to patients of Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, located at 1614 NC Highway 56, Creedmoor, NC 27522. She has previously provided outpatient psychotherapy at Granville Behavioral Health Services in Oxford. In order to schedule a consultation with Kerry, schedule an appointment with a primary care provider at the Butner-Creedmoor clinic by calling 919-575-6103 or online at ghshospital.org.