Surviving and Thriving During the Winter Blues

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How to Beat the Winter Blues

When the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it seems like your satisfaction with life shrinks behind the clouds. In the summer, you find yourself full of life, energy and optimism. Now, it seems like the gray skies of the winter zap the fire from your being.

Matters become more complex when you add your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to the equation. Maybe having your energy zapped will be a positive; maybe it will quiet your ADHD symptoms and serve as a balance to your life.

Unfortunately, that’s not typically the case. Instead, they create a more challenging and layered foe to face.

It seems that the winter blues are a justifiable fear and ADHD’s presence is constant. This leaves you with the question: What can be done about this compounding combination? The situation may appear as bleak as the weather outside your window, but there are simple, practical solutions you can employ to boost your spirits and manage your ADHD through even the coldest, dullest winters. Here’s how:

Understand the Influences

You may understand the connection between winter and lower mood, less energy, decreased motivation and increased irritability. That is a good start, but it is important to investigate the specific aspects that trigger this change. The time of the year influences several levels of changes including:

  • Less sunlight. Decreased light from shorter days can impact the body’s internal clock and lower levels of desirable chemicals in the brain.
  • Activity change. When the weather is colder people are more likely to stay inside and engage in fewer activities.
  • Decreased socialization. With the decreased activity, there may be fewer opportunities to meet with friends and family. Socialization is a fantastic resource and a good way to push back against the blues.
  • Holidays. Where lack of socialization can be a negative, too much can be stressful, too. Perhaps the increased contact and pressures associated with family gatherings is a facet of your winter blues.
  • Self-reflection. People naturally evaluate and assess the past 12 months during year’s end. They also look forward to goals for the next year. This can be depressing to those who feel stuck or have a lack of accomplishment.

Resolving the Contributors

Once you can identify the source or sources of your winter blues, you can begin taking steps to resolve their work. By diminishing the influence, you can diminish the impact and find stability and consistency the whole year through. Consider these options for addressing:

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Less Sunlight

Some people choose phototherapy by buying special lights to sit under. Some will be sure to have their home well lit during the dark hours. Others will look for indirect substitutions for the benefits of sunlight.

Sunlight may be associated with the level of a neurotransmitter in the body called serotonin. Put simply, less serotonin is related to less happiness. You do have some control over your serotonin levels through exercise, sleep and diet.

Adding regular exercise, a healthier diet loaded with lean proteins and vegetables, and improving the quality and quantity of your sleep can help the serotonin flow.

Activity Change

Going to the park, to the local swimming pool, or for a long walk in the woods are not as possible during the winter months. You can sit in annoyance of the weather, or you can think about solutions.

Since outside activity will be more challenging, consider finding regularly scheduled activities that take place inside or shift your hobbies for the winter months. For example, joining a gym during the winter months will give you an activity that will get you out of the house with the added bonus of adding to your serotonin levels.

You will have to increase your flexibility as the weather may keep you indoors, but don’t let it completely deter you. When all else fails, bundle up and head outdoors anyways. Unless the weather is dangerous, a walk outdoors just might be enough to fight back against the blues.

Decreased Socialization

It is possible you and your friends see each other less often in the winter. If this leads to unwanted feelings, do something about it by establishing a plan during the fall to implement later.

How will you maintain the relationship? Can you schedule meetings? Can you inject more frequent phone calls or online contact to the relationship to continue its benefit? Do not wait until lack of social contact becomes a problem to work towards a solution. In this case, prevention will be the finest resolution.

Holidays

Holidays create an endless mix of feelings for people. Some will meet the season with excitement while others will dread the day. Consider asserting control over the situation so it does not control your moods.

Start your own traditions or do your best to suggest revised or compromised traditions for your family. It could be that other people feel the same way you do. In some situations, ending contact with family members might actually be the best solution to the winter blues, but don’t make this decision with haste.

Self-Reflection

If looking back on the year makes you feel like a failure, go easy on yourself. People rarely meet or surpass their resolutions because they don’t establish realistic goals for themselves. Instead, they aim for lofty, improbable goals that only end in disappointment.

While looking back with kindness, look forward with a renewed notion that the best goals are as challenging as they are achievable.

The ADHD Factor

You already know your ADHD impacts all aspects of your life. Because of that, your overriding goal with the above tasks is to remain consistent. None of these can be done in one day.

To truly take care of yourself, you need sustained effort. If this is something you cannot do alone, employ an army. By utilizing friends, family and trusted supports, you can resolve the contributors of the winter blues.

You may feel like you are too busy fighting ADHD to have time to fight the winter blues. You are in luck, though. All of the methods outlined above to resist the blues will also do their part to manage ADHD. By attacking the winter blues, you can be a happier, healthier, more attentive version of you.

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