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Beating the winter blues

With shorter days and increased hours of darkness, it might seem natural to feel down now and again. Maybe you feel anxious or a little more moody. You find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps you just don’t have the energy you used to.

For as many as one in four adults, it may be more than a case of the winter blues. An estimated 11 million Americans experience seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Some simple strategies can help you win the fight against SAD:

Talk to your healthcare provider.

If you experience symptoms for more than a few weeks, it’s a good idea to talk to a medical professional. If it’s something more than a winter slump, the sooner you get help the better.

Stay on track with healthy eating.

Eating a healthy diet will help to give you more energy and enhance your mood. Also pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. If you find you get a temporary high and then a big drop, avoid those foods as well.

Stay active.

We all know that getting your 150 minutes of physical activity each week is important for overall health. Research also shows it is beneficial for coping with the winter blues.

Get outside light.

Getting as much daylight as possible is important. It plays a big role in your mood and how you are feeling. If possible position yourself near windows on sunny days and choose colors that reflect light for décor.

Turn up the music.

Studies have shown that listening to upbeat, cheerful music helps to improve mood in both the short- and long-term. Try a daily dose when you are feeling in a funk and see how your body responds.

Be a social butterfly.

Studies have shown that socializing can help to boost mood and fight the winter blues. This could be as simple as a quick phone call to a night out with friends. Find a happy medium that makes you feel best and make it a habit.

Call a health coach.

UPMC Health Plan members have access to health coaches through their benefits packages. Our health coaches support members across a variety of areas, including lifestyle changes, condition management, and behavioral health.

It’s important to have a plan in place so you’re prepared when you start to feel a drop in your mood or a shift in how you are feeling. As you find which strategies work best for you, build those into your daily routine.



American Psychological Association:

National Institutes of Health: