Fighting the Winter Blues! A Guide to Protecting your Mental Health this Holiday Season

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By Saul Rivera, YAB Intern

Although the holidays are often portrayed as cheerful, bright, and happy, sometimes this just is not the case. People may have complicated feelings about the holidays and the colder nights, shorter days, and lack of sunlight can have a big effect on our brains, reducing our serotonin levels and in turn making us feel gloomy. But do not fret!

Here are some ideas to protect yourself and brighten your days:


●    Get some exercise in. Not only can this keep you warm, but exercise is also known to increase serotonin levels. Pack on those layers and go for a walk/jog in the brisk sunlight to offset any symptoms of depression you may be feeling.


●    Unplug. Although most of us are always on our phone anyways, this can be especially harmful during winter where there is less sunlight and more time spent outdoors. Take some time away from the news and tiktok (if you’re like me) and head outdoors if you can. If not, try picking up a new book, or play a board game!


●    Keep a healthy sleep schedule. The holidays are busy times for many people. Make sure you’re sleeping at least 8 hours, and that you’re sleeping at the appropriate time. Even if you’re a night owl, waking up with the sun can help you stay motivated.


●    Stick to your boundaries. It is ok to say no to things that do not make you feel better. Sometimes there are gatherings around the holidays that could make you feel worse and not better. Remember it is ok to say no!  


●    Reach out for help. Although the winter blues are common and often temporary, depression is a slippery slope. If these methods offer no relief, consider talking to a loved one about what you’re feeling. Also consider resources like therapy to discuss with a professional your next steps.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Taking care of your mental health is an important way to own your health!