Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) also known as the “winter blues” (or “winter blahs”) affects millions of people every year. If you’ve ever felt sluggish and down during the colder, darker months, you may have experienced this short-term downer yourself.
Although this is characterized as a disorder, it may just be our minds and bodies encouraging us to take things a bit slower and hibernate a bit more until the warmer days of spring return.
Symptoms of the winter blues can include the following:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- General lethargy and loss of energy
- The feeling of having heavy limbs that are troublesome to move around
- Social withdrawal; feeling like you just want to be left alone
- Fatigue and oversleeping
- Loss of interest in socializing or other activities
- Food cravings, especially for carbohydrates and fatty foods
- Weight gain (likely from a combination of appetite changes and lack of exercise)
- Difficulty concentrating
Does any of this sound familiar? SAD usually clears up on its own as soon as the weather warms up again and we spend a bit more time in the sunshine, but some common tricks to alleviate the winter blues include exercise, light therapy and cutting back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol. And while we definitely agree with the experts, we’ve got a few more suggestions to add to that list. Here are seven ideas to break those nasty wintertime blues:
- Bask. Alright, so Wisconsin isn’t known for sizzling temps during the winter months but us “sconnies” have a few tricks up our sweatshirt sleeves when it comes to taking in some Vitamin D. When Old Man Winter comes a knockin’, we bolt to Wilderness Resort’s Wild WaterDome Indoor Park. It’s a 70,000-square-foot indoor waterpark featuring a see-though roof that shines natural light over the entire park and actually allows guests to tan year-round. Take that, Florida!
- Create. Art is good for the soul. Even if your last artistic masterpiece was a paint-by-number, kick it up a notch and give some new art forms a try. Grab a friend and roll up your sleeves at places like Hands On Art Studio in Fish Creek or Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point.
- Laugh. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” <– We couldn’t agree more, Charlie Chaplin. When you’re feelin’ blue, a few hours of hearty belly laughs can be the best medicine. Consider taking in a comedy show at the Armory in Janesville, Skyline Comedy Cafe in Appleton or the Comedy Club on State in Madison.
- Relax. With the constant juggling of school, work, friends and family, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast lane. Slow things down a bit and enjoy a luxurious day of pampering at one of Wisconsin’s many nationally-recognized spas such as Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Aspira in Elkhart Lake or Dayspring Health Spa in Wausau.
- Learn. Engaging in meaningful activities is a surefire way to foster happiness. So fuel that brain power and discover something new! Sports buffs: Take a stadium tour at Lambeau Field and check out the Hall of Fame Museum in Green Bay. History buffs will love all 11 Wisconsin Historic Sites scattered throughout the state. And there are Wisconsin museums on just about every topic, including the arts, war history, yo-yos, mustard and accordions! (Read more about those here.)
- Hydrate. It may be easy to forget about the importance of hydration during the winter but…don’t! Dehydration can actually occur just as easily in the winter. Drinking enough H2O will help better control your blood pressure, lubricate your joints and keep your skin healthy. If you’re not loving the idea of drinking cold water when it’s -100 outside, give hot herbal tea a try. Also, if you want to be healthy and hip, may we suggest this Wisco water bottle.
- Volunteer. Whether it’s your time, money or skills you donate, giving back has proven to improve folks’ mental state and overall happiness. Look into Wisconsin organizations like Angel On My Shoulder, which supports cancer survivors and their family members, or Occupy Madison, Inc., which builds Tiny Houses in the Madison area to help end homelessness.
How do you beat the winter blues? Share your ideas below!
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