Winter Blues: the Negative Impact of Cold Weather on Mental Health
People generally feel happier during the summer and spring. On the other hand, we feel gloomy once winter and fall are here. There’s a scientific reason behind this.
Studies show that weather changes can affect not just one’s mood, but one’s health as well. Our skin can try out during winter. One’s allergies are not even safe during the cold winter months. But did you know that winter can also wreak havoc to one’s mental health?
Negative Impacts of Winter on Our Mental Health
The cold harsh weather is accompanied by shorter days and longer nights. If you work outdoors, then having to step out of the cold can make you feel irritable. Instead of staying warm and toasty in the comforts of your home, you have to wear layers of clothing and big boots just to keep yourself warm outdoors. Since we people tend to be less social during the winter, it becomes easy to feel lonely and isolated. The lack of social interaction makes our body reduce its oxytocin production, which is the hormone that makes us feel good and blissful.
Winter blues do exist. There is a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is actually a type of depression that begins and ends during an intense season. It usually happens during winter, when sunlight and Vitamin D is less abundant.
SAD can make one feel depressed nearly every day. You may feel like you lack the energy to do even the activities you used to enjoy doing. Difficulty falling asleep, weight or appetite changes and difficulty concentrating are also usual symptoms of SAD. In severe cases, one may feel guilty or worthless and can have frequent thoughts of suicide or death. If you think you are experiencing SAD in extreme cases, it is best not to brush off the thought and seek professional help.
Did you know that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms can also flare up during winter? Seasonal change can awaken the trauma felt by a PTSD patient. This is even if they already made tremendous progress after months of therapy. One factor is since social and financial pressures are higher during this time.
The cold season also intensifies the risk of substance and alcohol abuse. If you’ve been battling alcohol or substance abuse, you might feel pressured to start drinking or use drugs again. Again, the lack of sunlight, Vitamin D, and social isolation is to blame. It is important that you tell your counselor facilitating your drug rehabilitation program if winter is making you crave your vices again.
Ways You Can Fight Winter Blues
Thankfully, there are ways you can stop winter from getting the best of you. If you’ve been feeling depressed lately, make sure not to isolate yourself even more. Try to make time to go out with friends and colleagues. If you can, host a small get together to give yourself something to look forward to.
Keep yourself busy by scheduling manageable tasks. You can opt to clean the house, do your grocery shopping, or even help out a family member or friend do their chores. Make sure to treat yourself something nice to balance your hard work.
It is also a good idea to keep yourself fit during the winter. According to studies, physical activity helps fight depression. You will feel great, keep yourself warm and healthy and even facilitate better sleep. You don’t even need a gym membership. You can work out inside the house without investing in your own gym equipment.
If you are feeling the pressures of winter holiday, then it would be best to avoid situations that will make it hard for you to cope. For instance, your loved ones may expect you to drink with them especially if they don’t know you’re battling alcohol addiction. It would be better to ask support from someone who knows your situation so that they can help you get out of the tricky situation.
The financial pressures of gift-giving can stress you out. Don’t put additional stress on yourself if you can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone. Stop yourself from buying expensive decorations just to impress other people in your neighborhood or your social media followers. Learn to say no to things you don’t feel comfortable about and can’t afford.
If you feel like winter is doing you no good, don’t hesitate to seek support. Find a loved one who can make you feel better and a professional before the cold season ruins your mental health. Winter will pass but that does not mean you have to suffer and alone for that matter. Choose to be happy and mentally healthy and don’t let every winter ruin your life.