Stress, Depression, and the Winter Blues: Tips for Coping


Stress, Depression, and the Winter Blues: Tips for Coping

Snowman with a frown

Stress and depression can ruin your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression. The colder weather sometimes brings fewer social activities and more downtime; but with some practical tips you can minimize the stress that accompanies the colder season.

Tips to prevent the winter blues

When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy.
  2. Reach out. Reach out to your communities if you feel lonely or isolated as they can offer support and companionship. Consider reaching out to talk with a friend of family member about your concerns.   
  3. Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  4. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, laundry, connecting with friends and other activities. 
  5. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  6. Don't abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

  • Have a healthy snack and don't go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
  • Avoid excessive tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
  • Be aware of how the information culture can produce undue stress and adjust the time you spend reading news and social media as you see fit.

7. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy. Take a break by yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading a book
  • Taking a walk at night and stargazing

8. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Adapted from Mayo Clinic

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