With time officially changed and darkness creeping in, it’s hard not to get depressed and sad. Luckily, there are ways to fight off the Swedish seasonal blues.
You might be wondering what it feels like to have the “winter blues”? How do you know if you have it? The “winter blues” is actually termed seasonal affective disorder or SAD. SAD is a type of depression that is connected to the changing of seasons. For most people with SAD the symptoms begin in the fall and carry on into the winter. SAD zaps energy and makes one moody. There is treatment for SAD and steps that you can take to keep your mood and motivation up.
Take Vitamin D
During the autumn and winter, you need vitamin D because the sun is not powerful enough for the body to make it. Since it is hard to get vitamin D solely from your diet, consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months. Research has been shown that vitamin D can play a role in regulating your mood and fighting off depression. Vitamin D in Sweden can be found at Apoteket (pharmacy) for under $10!
Get Outside and Enjoy the Winter Weather
Getting outside during the winter to avoid the winter blues holds benefits for both your body and mind. A data review in 2011 found that exercising in natural environments was linked with decreased tension, anger, and depression, and increased energy. The benefits of being outdoors during the winter are important to fighting SAD. Even though it is cold, getting outdoors can help you absorb needed vitamin D.
Can’t think of any winter outdoor activities? Some ideas include:
- Watching the Sunset
- Ice Skating
- Photographing Winter Scenes
- Drinking a Hot Beverage Outside
- Snowball Fight
Spend Time With Others
Spending time with others whether it is friends, family, or acquaintances can have mental health benefits. This includes lightening your mood and making you feel happier. When a disorder such as SAD lowers your mood and zaps your energy, it is important to have the benefits of spending time with others. If you don’t have any close friends or family around you, you can also volunteer your time during the winter months as a way to spend time with people and be around them.
Keep Yourself Busy!
Keeping yourself busy can distract yourself from the cold, dark weather and how long it lasts. Especially in the months of November and December leading up to the holidays there are plenty of things to do in your town or city. Make a list of the things you want to do such as seeing the lights in your city, having a movie night, traveling, and more! While it is good to keep busy also remember not to neglect or ignore mental health problems that arise.
Get a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Lamp
Some individuals find that light therapy can be affective to combat SAD. A way to get light therapy at home is to sit in front of a SAD lamp for up to two hours a day. A SAD lamp is a rectangular light box that simulate sunlight which triggers the brain to release serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel good. While SAD lamps are effective they can be costly and somewhat hard to find.
Being cold makes you more depressed and it is found that staying warm can reduce the winter blues in half. Some ways to keep warm include enjoying hot meals and beverages, dressing in warm clothes, and keeping your house/room around 18-21 celsius.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
If your symptoms of SAD are so bad that you can’t live a normal life it is advised that you seek professional help. In Sweden you can call 1177 and talk to a nurse who can refer you to psychiatric help. If you are unsure how to go about this, refer to our blog post on How to access mental health services in Sweden.
Wintertime in Sweden is hard, dark, and cold. You don’t have to go through it with difficulty or alone. Make sure you keep yourself warm, busy, and spend time with those you care about. Good luck!