The Winter Blues: How to Cope with Less Sunlight after Daylight Saving Times Ends

Winter is officially here! Snow is on the ground, the Holidays are right around the corner, and Daylight savings is officially over. That’s right, we all rolled our clocks back by an hour this month putting an end to the long sunny days of the Summer and Fall and stepping into early evenings of Winter.

While many people love getting that extra hour of sleep a lot of individuals dread the time change as it can often come paired with the “winter blues”.

“Winter blues” is a general term for the increased feelings of sadness and low-level depression that often accompany the shortening of daylight hours. A few common symptoms are:

  • Sadness or feeling down most of the day
  • Sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feeling hopeless

It’s important to be proactive if you know that you have a tendency to feel more depressed in the winter. There are many things you can do to cope with less sunlight, below are a few easy steps to try this Winter to combat those winter blues.

  1. Soak up the morning sun - to compensate for the loss of light in the evening, take a walk first thing in the morning to soak up as much sunlight as you can before you start your day.

  2. Improve your sleeping habits - prioritize getting a good night’s rest by getting to bed early and avoiding electronic devices before bed.

  3. Stay active - studies have found that regular exercise has as much of an effect on mood as antidepressants. Try to stay active and exercise for 30 minutes a day at least 5 times per week.

  4. Socialize - stay in touch with friends and family and get together in person. Socialization helps elevate your mood and keep you from falling into those winter blues.

While the winter blues are normal and nothing to be afraid of, there is a more serious condition that is associated with the shortened daylight hours called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If your feelings of sadness or depression are not improved by any of the suggestions above or get worse over time then you may be dealing with more than just the winter blues. If you find yourself in that place please reach out to me or another mental health professional for support and guidance to talk with you and put together a plan to help you get through this winter season happy and healthy.