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Winter is here, and for some people that brings on the winter blues

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

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For many people the winter months can be challenging, but there are strategies you can put in place to tackle the winter blues.

Feeling down, struggling to find motivation, lethargy, and changing eating habits are quite common. As the environment outside turns cold and grey we find ourselves staying inside more, and craving more crabs in our diet.

You may be surprised to know that this is actually a normal and natural response in the colder months. As the days get shorter and there is less sunlight, we tend to respond with a ‘hibernating’ reaction. The more indoor living we do in Winter also means a drop in our regular activity.

There will be fluctuations in your eating patterns, some weight gain, more sleep required than usual, fatigue and a general sluggishness, accompanied by a decrease in motivation or interest.

While some people manage these fluctuations with relatively minimal disruption to their daily routines, a few people’s Winter Blues symptoms may extend to a more intense group of symptoms known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

Mental health organsiation Beyond Blue have highlighted that a lack of sunlight might be the trigger to this condition.

Uni students may be especially prone to symptoms of the Winter Blues, given the long mid-year break from study in winter and the tendency as such to stay indoors with a disruption to regular study routines.

If you find yourself prone to this slump during winter, consider the following tips.

  • Ensure you get exposure to at least one hour of outdoor light each day, preferably in the morning.—Make an effort to keep up your social life. A decrease in social activities during the Winter can have an impact on your mood and energy levels.
  • Exercise! Make sure you keep active by continuing exercise. While more difficult to undertake in the Winter, it can help lift depressive symptoms.—SAD sufferers may need to undertake light treatment. This involves sitting in front of a portable light box for about one hour each day.
  • SAD sufferers also respond well to more standard depression treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.

The encouraging news is that for most Winter Blues sufferers, the symptoms tend to lift as soon as the warmer months reappear. If you have any queries or suspect you may be suffering with a bout of the Winter Blues, ECU Counsellors are available to assist you.

Download the tip sheet on the Winter Blues and checkout others in the series. You can also make an appointment to chat to a member of the Counselling Team.

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