As the leaves in Seattle transition from vibrant green to autumn’s golds and reds, and eventually fall to reveal the stark branches of winter, many of us may experience a corresponding shift in our mental well-being. Shorter days and chilly, rainy weather can lead to a form of situational depression known as seasonal affective disorder. Here’s a guide to beating the winter blues and boosting your mental health.
1. Consume News in Moderation
While staying informed is essential, overexposure to the 24-hour news cycle can exacerbate stress and anxiety. Allocate 15 minutes to catch up on the day’s headlines, then consciously step away. Instead, immerse yourself in activities that uplift your spirit. Whether it’s losing yourself in a good book or watching a comedy that always makes you laugh, the goal is to shift your focus to positivity.
2. Embrace Gratitude
A gratitude journal can transform your perspective by drawing attention to the positive aspects of your life. Take a few moments each night to jot down things you’re thankful for. This practice serves as a daily reminder to be happy and live in the moment, while training your mind to spot and appreciate small joys throughout your day.
3. Bundle up and Step Out
Don’t underestimate the power of a brisk walk in the crisp winter air. Physical activity is a proven mood booster, and exposure to daylight, even when it’s faint, can help mitigate the effects of SAD. In the sunlight, your body produces vitamin D, which is crucial for your overall health. So bundle up, get outside, and let nature’s cold but gentle hand nudge your mood in the right direction.
4. Cultivate Calm Through Meditation
Meditation is a refuge for the mind. It helps you establish a serene mental environment, which can be particularly beneficial when seasonal depression sets in. With a plethora of guided meditations available online, find a quiet corner and give yourself the gift of mindfulness, which can alleviate stress and bring about a sense of inner peace.
5. Maintain Connections
Social bonds are vital for mental health, and though seasonal depression may change your willingness to get out and meet people in person, it shouldn’t prevent your ability to connect. Virtual platforms like Zoom offer an alternative to in-person gatherings, allowing us to maintain the warmth of friendships and family ties despite the cold. Try to schedule regular check-ins that give you something to look forward to, beat the winter blues, and help you feel less isolated.
Seasonal Self-Care for All
While fall and winter in Seattle can be difficult for your mental health, the changing seasons also bring unique opportunities for joy and reflection. By adopting self-care practices, you can weather the shift and find moments of happiness and tranquility. If seasonal depression makes it difficult to find the motivation to undertake these activities, remember that help is available. Lakeside-Milam is here to support you through every season of change – all our outpatient mental health locations are open and accepting new clients. With seven locations across western Washington, high-quality care has never been more accessible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.