I am terrible at winter, in general. I can kind of get into it for a little while, usually, at least through the holidays. And on a totally frivolous note — I do love being able to wear boots and cute sweaters! But once the new year rolls around, and all the holiday cheer is spent, and it’s freezing and DARK all the time …. UG! That’s when I start to start having fantasies of either moving somewhere like Miami beach, or magically morphing into some kind of creature that hibernates. Seriously. I find winter can be terribly depressing, what with the long nights, the cold, dry air, and the difficulty of doing something as simple as walking a few blocks to the park (Too cold! Too slippery! Where’s my hat? It’s dark ALREADY?) — let alone meeting friends for dinner (LEAVE THE HOUSE NOW?!)
I’ve never been officially diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I know I suffer from all the symptoms, and it’s really easy for me to slip into depression during the winter, which is no bueno for me, my health, or for my family! This year, due to a terrible personal loss, I’m working extra hard to battle the winter blues, so I’m happy to get help and advice from the pros. Dr. Josie Howard, a member of the Simple advisory board, specializes in women’s mental health with a focus on psychodermatology (a popular skincare treatment that connects the mind and body as it examines disorders caused by stress). She gave me some really great advice on how to fight back against SAD:
1. Let there be light!
“The gold standard for seasonal affective disorder is to go back to the source of the problem — light, ” says Dr. Howard. She recommends purchasing a simple light box from places like Costco, etc. which has a broad-spectrum light. Sitting in front of this for the prescribed amount of time, which differs, first thing in the morning can “make a huge difference.”
2. Get moving.
“Lifestyle measures which support mood and emotional wellness become all the more important — and often more challenging — during the winter months of short, grey days,” says Dr. Howard. First, she says, “regular aerobic exercise is essential.” According to Dr. Howard, it takes relatively little — 20-30 minutes — on five or more days per week to make a “huge difference in energy and outlook.” This is especially true in the dark winter months, when you really need that burst of energy and oxygen!
3. Sleep: it’s for more than just beauty.
“Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene is paramount,” says Dr. Howard. Here’s a great video where Dr. Howard talks about the importance of relaxation and sleep in terms of your overall heath, as well as your skin’s health and appearance! She shares some excellent tips for getting a better night’s sleep in the video too:
(ps: I just want to add my own tip for getting a good night’s sleep: Give yourself the comfort of knowing you cleansed your face before you got in bed! If you really run out of time, Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes are lifesavers! Followed by Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer = bliss!)
4. Eat right.
“An often overlooked, but very important, component of caring for ones mind and mood is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Howard. “There is increasing recognition and research evidence pointing to the link between emotional wellbeing and robust fruit and veggie intake — and, conversely between intake of processed foods and depression.”
And, she points out, the same thing goes for good skin!
5. Be social!
“Nurturing supportive relationships during the winter months can be incredibly strengthening of ones positive outlook on life and sense of resilience,” says Dr. Howard. “This may take extra effort in the winter months — when it’s dark and cold out, it’s hard to get motivated to get out and socialize — but so critical to do!”
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to have plans seven night a week, or that your plans have to be overly ambitious. “Set realistic goals,” she advises. “You don’t have to go out dancing all night; meeting up with a group of friends for a fireside chat is just as good … though don’t forget to get your body moving during the day!”
Great advice, right? And just remember — after December 21st, the days start getting longer again. Summer will be here before we know it!
Do you feel blue in the winter?