Mental health tips: Easy ways to beat the winter blues, manage mood swings | Health

As the days are getting colder and winter chill is setting in, we tend to spend more time indoors curled up in our blankets and binge-watching movies or just staying glued to our screens. As we become less active, our mental health can also suffer. If you are also someone who feels depressed most of the winters, it could probably be due to your lifestyle habits or faulty winter routine. Mood disorders like SAD (Seasonal affective disorder), a type of depression can also hit some people and contribute to the low mood during the day. It is important to manage your mental health in the cold weather by tweaking your routine a little bit, adding more physical activities and good diet to it. (Also read: Diabetes: Can feeling anxious or happy raise your blood sugar? Here’s what an expert says)

“It’s the year’s end. The sun is starting to set early and the weather is getting colder day by day. Less sun during this time of the year often takes a toll on our physical and mental health. We find ourselves feeling more irritable and having low energy, or even struggling for doing our day-to-day chores. Maintaining our mental health through these winter months is crucial for our overall health and wellness,” says Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Founder and Senior Psychiatrist, Manasthali.

What is seasonal affective disorder

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression witnessed in people during the winters. Symptoms include lack of energy, oversleeping, sluggishness, losing interest in routine activities or the willingness to do anything. Winter blues invite laziness; people opt for staying in bed and binge-watching their favourite shows with consuming junk instead of going out and exploring places,” says Dr. RC Jiloha, Senior Consultant – Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Here are expert tips one can follow to beat the winter blues and manage those negative feelings:

1. Go outside and exercise

Doing daily exercise is good for our body and mind. Even just 15- 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day can boost our energy level, help us to sleep better, boost our confidence and improve our mood.

“The cold weather doesn’t mean we should stay indoors. Layer yourself properly with warm clothes and go outside for a walk and get some fresh air and necessary Vitamin D. Exercise helps to reduce stress and relax. Spending time in daylight, even in winter, refreshes the mood. If you aren’t able to get outside, there are still many options for at-home workouts. Check online videos to follow along or virtual classes to join. You may even find these kinds of classes offer a way to connect with others while you enjoy the physical benefits,” says Dr Kapoor.

2. Eat healthy and sleep well

“Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is a core component of maintaining a healthy and good lifestyle. Diets full of processed foods and refined sugar have been connected to worsening mood disorders, including depression. It may be challenging with all those leftover holiday foods and desserts, but focus on maintaining balance – fill up on healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins, but allow yourself the occasional indulgence,” says Dr Kapoor.

3. Plan a winter vacation

“Going for a winter vacation is the best thing to break anxiety levels. Though darker days are moody a change of environment and snowfall make a lot of difference. People also plan a lot of trekking activities, extreme adventure sports and exploring the mountains covered in snow time. Staying in touch with your loved ones and taking the initiative to nurture your mental health is the first step to coming out of your gloomy thoughts in any season. However, if you think your situation is getting very complicated and harming your personal life, please get professional help. Let a therapist understand your issues and give you the most suitable solution,” says Dr Jiloha.

4. Plan your day

“Make a proper schedule to maintain your energy level throughout the day, including some routine physical exercises like brisk walking or yoga without being stuck for early morning timing,” says

Dr. Shweta Sharma, Clinical Psychologist & Founder, Mansa Global Foundation for Mental Health.

5. Do not consume negative news

“If you are feeling negatively impacted by the news, limit your exposure to 15 minutes and then shift your attention to something more uplifting, like a TV show, sports or any movie you enjoy. The same thing applies to scrolling through social media apps. Limit your time and move on to a more rewarding and new activity,” says Dr Kapoor.

6. Be grateful

“Though it takes five minutes only a day, keeping a gratitude book can significantly refresh your mood and open your mental outlook. At the end of each day, write down at least one thing that you are grateful for that day,” says Dr Kapoor.

7. Start doing meditation

“Meditation is a very good practice, even if only for five to ten minutes a day and brings a big change in your health. Meditating once a day in the morning or before bed can help keep you grounded and ease your mind,” according to Dr Kapoor.

8. Plan outdoor activities

“Plan some outdoor activities weekly to have new mental energy as staying in one place or maintaining the same routine doesn’t give you enough motivation,” says Dr Sharma.

9. Journal

“Do gratitude journal writing to remind yourself “how important you are as an individual” or to realise your self-worth,” says Dr Sharma.

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