Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 6, 2022 and Island Ad-Vantages, January 6, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, January 6, 2022
Feeling blue? You’re not alone
Tips on dealing with seasonal affective disorder
Mainers are a hardy bunch. But even the toughest among us may already find themselves feeling down and depressed, according to a press release from Northern Light Acadia Hospital.
It’s not surprising. Studies have shown that 4 to 6 percent of all Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression, when days grow colder and shorter. Northern Light Acadia Hospital is committed to helping Maine people live their best lives. Its Healthy Life Resources team has developed a list of tips to help you identify the symptoms of SAD and find ways to overcome the wintertime blues.
Take a walk. “Forest bathing” is a type of eco-therapy that is defined by mindfully spending time in nature. Studies have shown that short walks in nature have been seen to increase mood and provide benefits for the body and mind.
Dress for the elements. Bundle up with warm gloves, hats, scarves and more when going outside in the winter. Blankets, warm socks and snuggly clothes will help anyone focus on the cozy aspects of winter!
Care for plants. During the winter, it helps to have some small part of nature to take care of when you’re feeling low. Studies have shown that gardening can help reduce feelings of depression.
Fill up your social calendar. The pandemic has made it difficult to connect with loved ones, but one of the best things a person can do for themselves is spend time with people they care about. Put events on your calendar that you really look forward to. Just be safe about it.
Use light therapy. Some studies support the idea that bright light therapy from light boxes is an effective treatment option for the “winter blues.” If this isn’t an option for you, try to ensure you get at least some sunlight each day!
Mmmmmm. Eat healthy, but indulge in comfort foods, too!
Do things that make you feel better! Going to a movie, gardening or taking part in religious, social or other activities often help. Doing something nice for someone else can also help you feel better.
Try aromatherapy. Bright scents like citrus may help you feel more energized throughout the day.
Stick to a routine. Ensuring you get enough sleep at night will help you feel better and make you more energized throughout the day.
Get regular exercise. Exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as many antidepressant medications.
For more information to benefit good mental health, visit northernlighthealth.org/HLR.