A woman holding her head in her hands with a sad expression

Got the post-holiday blues? How to fight seasonal depression

Seasonal depression is more common than you think

If you are feeling a bit blue after the new year, you are not alone. The cold and dark weather at this time of the year can have a major impact on a person’s mood and outlook. It typically occurs during the winter months and wears off in the spring.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), happens to millions of Canadians each year. Even though many people shrug it off as moodiness, it is a disorder that should be taken seriously.

Seasonal depression can do a lot more than put you in a bad mood. It can impact your quality of life, your performance at work and your relationships with friends and family.

Common symptoms of seasonal depression include tiredness, sudden change in mood, being more emotional than normal, lethargy, decreased concentration, increased appetite and weight gain, and lack of motivation. The good news is that there are many ways that you can fight it and get yourself back on track.

How to fight the post-holiday blues

If you are feeling down this winter, try some of the following tips to get back up to speed:

  1. Get moving: One of the most effective ways to combat seasonal depression is to get active and exercise on a regular basis. Hitting the gym during the week has many positive health benefits. You will not only feel better, you will also look better and improve your health. Going to the gym is also a good way to get out of the house and meet new people.
  2. Book a vacation: Booking a vacation to a sunny south destination to get away from it all is the perfect way to shake the blues. Travelling gives you a break from your daily routine and allows you to relax, making it tough not to feel better.
  3. Get some fresh air: Even though it’s cold, getting outside, breathing some fresh air and taking in the winter sunshine will help you feel better. When you are indoors, keep your blinds open and let in as much natural light as possible into your home or workplace.
  4. Create a schedule and stick to it: Having a daily schedule will help you stay on track and get a good night’s sleep. People with depression often have difficulty sleeping at night, and going to bed at a regular time will help you get into a good sleeping pattern.
  5. Keep busy: Cancelling plans with friends and staying home by yourself will only give you more time to stew and brood. When you are feeling down, try to keep busy, get out of the house and be around other people. Your interactions with others will often help you overcome your negative feelings.
  6. Watch what you eat: It’s common for people to turn to food when dealing with depression. People with SAD often eat more and crave starchy foods. This increased food intake can make you feel lethargic. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet to keep your energy levels up.
  7. Consider light therapy: There are a number of light-therapy devices, such as special light bulbs and portable light boxes, which can be used to help you overcome the blues. If this is not for you, increase the amount of lighting you’re exposed to at home.

Try some of tips outlined here and see what kind of impact they have on your mood. If your symptoms persist and start to negatively impact your life, book an appointment with your doctor to talk about your options.