Winter is Coming...

For some of us, the reprieve of cooler weather is a welcome change from the summer heat. But for others, there may be a sense of dread as we transition into the darker, cooler months. The question this writer has for those who struggle with winter blues is, “what can you do now to better support yourself this winter?”

First, let’s define seasonal affective disorder as it relates to winter blues. Terako Amison, MD, Medical Director, Work/Life Connections-EAP, defines this in a 2018 article as, “We generally think of the winter blues as depression that starts or gets worse in the fall or winter and improves in the spring or summer."  

Some of the symptoms that can be associated with depression are changes in sleep or appetite.”  If this description hits home for you or someone you know, maybe give these coping strategies a try this year.   

  • Add a Light Box or “happy light” to your space.

  • Establish healthy sleep habits to decrease any disruptions (i.e., sleeping too much or too little).

  • Nutrition - Be mindful if there are tendencies to overeat and/or increase intake of comfort foods. This may be an opportunity to try a delivery meal kit.

  • Hydrate!

  • Body movement - It may be difficult to start an exercise routine during the cooler months, so it's important to initiate a healthy routine when you are feeling more motivated.    

  • Slower months may be a wonderful time to try self-soothing coping tools: reading, knitting/crocheting, cooking, mindfulness/mediation, journaling, yoga, adult coloring books, aromatherapy, calming noises… what others can you think of?    

VUMC faculty and staff who may be experiencing symptoms of seasonal depression can call 615-936-1327 to schedule a free, confidential appointment with a Work/Life Connections-EAP counselor.