At our Tallinn office (yes, that’s in Estonia, the land of Skype, Transferwise and Taxify, South from Finland and East from Sweden) we’re intimately familiar with the Great Winter Blues. It’s not hard to see why. Usually it does get cold and dark in October and that lasts till March if we’re lucky. As it means our energy levels are down, we’ve had to find ways how to beat it. Here are a few of ours:
1. Use a Sun/Energy Lamp
It’s dark when you leave for work and dark when you get home, so how are you going to get your daily dose of natural sunshine? And if you don’t think less sunlight during winter months can affect you, your mood, or your energy levels, think again. A decrease in sunlight can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, and cause a drop in serotonin levels and Vitamin D levels, which can lead to depressive symptoms.
If you have the flexibility and the weather allows for it, schedule in an early morning walk or lunchtime stroll. If you don’t, consider this option, which is especially beneficial for people with full-fledged seasonal depression: a full-spectrum light box. Light therapy can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms and its natural release of the hormones that help you feel energised and the ones that help you sleep.
During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.
Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing the Great Winter Blues symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.
We’ve used the Philips GoLite lamps for years and have to admit they do work very well. Use it at breakfast or even during the day and you’ll feel a lot better
2. Stay active
A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only.
If you’re not really an outside person or hate the gym then we’ve loved playing games of tennis at the office on our office Xbox with Kinect. Basically it simulates a full game of tennis by following your movements. Not only it’s a great and quick workout, it’s also good for team building and it’s super fun!
3. Keep warm
You know what makes the Great Winter Blues worse? Being cold. Getting the feeling of cold in your bones is something that is certain to bring you down. So, put more clothes on or the heating up and you’ll be sure to feel at least a bit better. Or drink a hot beverage, like hot chocolate, ginger tea or coffee.
4. Travel somewhere
Longing for sunnier days at the beach? Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.
If you can afford it work and money-wise, then one option is also to go away one or a few times during the winter months to anywhere where it’s warmer. Or you can persuade your boss to take the whole office – you could work from Thailand, for example. Wouldn’t that be fun?
5. Organise a party
‘Tis the season to deck the halls and host a small seasonal party. And if it’s already after the holidays, any excuse to host a gathering of friends will do — try a dinner party, cheese tasting, or board game night. Planning an event will give you something to look forward to — and it could also put you on other people’s invite lists (more fun for you!).
Or you can have a spa-party, even with your friends. Where to get the products? Well.. Here’s the Gay Pack for you.
6. Queue Up a Stream of Laugh-Out-Loud Films
Experts believe that laughter actually stimulates processes in your brain that counter depressive symptoms. And since chuckling is downright contagious, you can invite a few pals over to share the popcorn. We’ve got just the list of series and films to watch!
7. Give yourself a gift
Trying new things, especially in the shape of gifts is a fab solution. If we may suggest anything then a Gay Pack with designer underwear + grooming products could be a fantastic idea. Plus, you can have it monthly if you’d like. Get one now!
8. Don’t Hesitate to See Your Healthcare Professional
Chronic pain, headaches, sleep disorders, and even heart disease are all linked to depression symptoms, so check in with your healthcare provider to make sure your winter blues aren’t something more serious.
9. Eat winter mood foods
If you have a slow cooker, winter is a great time to experiment with tasty mood-boosting soups and stews. Some great fall and winter ingredients to include are squash (a great source of magnesium and potassium), eggplant (which contains fibre, copper, vitamin B1, and manganese), sweet potatoes (full of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids), and turmeric (which assists with immune-inflammatory or stress pathways and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity).
10. Simulate dawn
People with the Great Winter Blues, a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.