The Winter Blues

Sarah Gold, LMHC, School Counselor

Happy February! Only 49 days until it’s officially Spring! Hooray! 

Ok, enough sunshine. Let’s be real. January felt like it was at least 3 months long and we all know that warm, inviting weather is a long way away. How are we going to get ourselves and our kids through the rest of the winter? How do you fight the winter blues? 

The winter blues can be more than just a slight dip in your mood and motivation. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is when the winter blues turns into depression. You are more likely to suffer from SAD if you live far from the equator—1% of people living in Florida suffer from SAD, whereas 9% of people living in places like New England are impacted. Although adults are more likely to suffer from SAD, it can affect children and teens as well. 

The leading theory on the winter blues is that shorter days cause our natural circadian rhythm to fall out of sync with the actual time of day. This results in a delay in the natural release of melatonin, causing a hiccup in our sleep patterns, which can spiral into lower moods and lack of motivation. How do we protect ourselves and our kids from the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Exercise! It makes everything feel better! Even a brisk walk outside can help improve one’s outlook.

Don’t hibernate! It’s tempting, but plan activities and get out of the house. It will improve everyone’s mood.

Volunteer. It’s one way to leave the house, and helping others is a great way to feel good.

If you are stuck indoors, turn off the screens and have some family fun. Play board games, bake, or do something creative. 

Find ways to be productive. Make a list of chores and indoor projects that need to be accomplished and get to work. A completed To-Do list makes anyone feel happy!

Rest and Relax! Calming music, a good book, or some mindful meditation, using apps like “Calm,” can improve your outlook. 

Don’t forget to open your shades and let the sunshine in! 

If you think that you or your child is struggling with more than the winter blues and you are concerned that it could be SAD, please reach out to a counselor, like me, or your doctor/pediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment options. 

 

Contact Sarah Gold, LMHC, Tower School Counselor
 


Want to read more? Here are the sources I referenced for this post:

National Institute of Mental Health  
 

The Atlantic
 

NYU Langone Health

 


 

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