Early winter, with its parties and presents, gets all the fun. But once the decorations come down, some people find themselves fighting a post-holiday funk — the festivities are over and the winter months still cloud the horizon. If you’re feeling down this time of year, try these 6 mood-boosting tips from Mason Turner, MD, assistant director of Regional Mental Health Services for The Permanente Medical Group in Northern California.
- Remember a pleasant event or imagine yourself in a peaceful place.
- Do something that makes you laugh.
- Unwind with animals — walk your dog, pet your cat, or if you don’t have a pet, walk a neighbor’s dog. People with pets are happier, healthier, and better adjusted than those without, according to a study reported by the American Psychological Association.
- Set aside some “you” time for an activity you enjoy, like yoga or lunch with friends.
- Be kind to other people.
- Volunteer and support a cause that matters to you. People who volunteer have lower depression rates compared to those who don’t, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Can’t shake symptoms on your own?
Some people find their symptoms are more serious than just feeling blue. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can trigger depression. Researchers aren’t sure what causes SAD, but they believe lack of sunlight plays a role.
People with SAD might notice that around the start of fall they:
- feel unhappy, moody, or anxious
- are uninterested in their usual activities
- crave carbohydrates and gain weight
- sleep more than usual
Symptoms often last until April or May. If you think you might have SAD, Dr. Turner says it’s important to talk to your doctor. Light therapy — exposure to either a simulated dawn or bright light in the morning — works for many people with SAD. Antidepressants and counseling can also help.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you suspect you or someone you love may be suffering from depression, our health professionals can help. (For Kaiser Permanente Members)