How Is Your Health?

Caring For Your Mental Health This Winter

by Camila Davidson

For many families, wintertime means cozy nights with hot cocoa or catching up with loved ones. But this season also presents unique challenges that may impact your mental health. Long nights, cold weather, and holiday stress can all add up over time to leave you feeling depressed or anxious. What can you do to protect your mental health during winter? These tips could help.

Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is especially common in northern latitudes. Although its exact cause is still a mystery, researchers speculate that some people rely on sunlight to produce and regulate serotonin more than others. For those people, shorter days mean less time for your brain to produce mood-balancing hormones, which can lead to depression. You can lessen the effects of SAD through a number of treatments, including light therapy and certain medications.

Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be a time of reunions, giving, and festivities. But in practice, they can easily become stressful and overwhelming due to social or financial pressures.  If you find yourself dreading family events rather than looking forward to them, consider speaking to a counselor or setting aside time for yourself to unwind.

Keeping up With Exercise

Frosty temperatures and icy streets don't always encourage people to get out and exercise. The winter months tend to see a drop-off in physical activity, but exercise plays an important role in your mood and overall well-being. You may find yourself feeling restless or irritable, for example, when you spend too much time cooped up. Try seeking out indoor exercise, such as a gym or pool membership, to keep yourself healthy and motivated through winter. 

Eating Healthy

Just as exercise keeps your mind and body fit, your diet can also influence how you feel each day. Holiday get-togethers often feature sugary treats and drinks, but these should still only make up a small portion of your diet. Focus on healthy meals and snacks between the holiday feasts to give your body and mind the nutrition they need to run normally.

Knowing When to Seek Counseling

Finally, don't be afraid to seek the help of a trained counselor if you feel yourself growing depressed. Even people who lead healthy and fulfilling lifestyles sometimes experience depression. A professional counselor can help you identify the causes and find the right solution to get you engaged with life once more. Contact a local mental health counselor today to get started.