Beat the Winter Blues


After the holiday décor comes down and the New Year’s confetti is cleared, going back to the mundane, everyday routine can be difficult. We realize that after the glow and distraction of our celebrations has faded, we still have weeks of darker, colder weather before spring comes back to cheer us up. Here is some Shrink Wrapped wisdom about winter blues:

What is Normal?

1. It is normal to go back to your routine after the holidays feeling tired, worn down, and even slightly depressed. Depressed feelings should slowly fade away as you spend time back in your usual schedule, but may linger or return temporarily if there are dark, dreary days with cold, wintry weather.  

Beat it:

  • Get into a good sleep routine. Try for 8 full hours of sleep. If going to sleep early is difficult, consider pushing up your bedtime in 30 minute increments gradually until you are going to bed at a reasonable hour. If you do not sleep well at night try to decrease caffeine intake, increase physical activity, and eliminate napping.
  • Think about purchasing a full spectrum light, such as the “Happy Light” by Verilux for your home or office. It simulates daylight, which is not as ample in the winter, and can reduce gloomy, tired feelings. A basic light of this type can be purchased on Amazon starting at about $30.00. 
  • Ask your doctor about taking vitamin D or a multi-vitamin to help with winter blues.

2. It is normal for many people may feel physically insecure in January after holiday eating and drinking. Many people feel personally dissatisfied and even pressured into fad dieting to drop those extra pounds.

Beat it:

  • Even if a diet is not on your New Year’s Resolution list, try to slowly decrease any overindulgence and replace it with your pre-holiday eating pattern.
  • Increase your physical activity to help your body release endorphins, which are naturally occurring hormones that can make us feel euphoric. (Endorphins are associated with the “runners’ high” phenomenon.) 
  • Think of non-food or -alcohol ways to reward yourself for work well done.  

3. It is normal to want to avoid the stressors of work and/or feel slightly less productive than you would like. Some work tasks may have been purposefully delayed until after the holidays, so January may feel overwhelming. 

 Beat it:

  • Organize and clean your office or work space to help you be more efficient. 
  • Think of projects in a step-wise manner. Take tasks one step at a time instead of dwelling on the end product and all the hours of work it will require. Set daily and weekly goals which are attainable and specific. 
  • Don’t discount positive self-talk. It does not help to put yourself down mentally when a project is overwhelming you. Think of past successes and how you accomplished them. Then, remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments when feeling down.

What is not Normal?

You know yourself best. So, if you are feeling more down than usual, and the duration is much longer than your norm, consult a professional. Feeling very depressed and becoming less functional in the fall and winter months, consistently year after year, may be an indication of a more serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are concerned that you have SAD, speak with your doctor and a mental health professional.

Although winter can be a bummer, don’t discount its advantages either: cozy nights with a good book, playoff football, making a snow man (or snow woman), drinking hot cocoa, sitting around a fire, going skiing for a day. Warm wishes to you and yours from Shrink Wrapped: Sessions To Go! 




Disclaimer: Shrink Wrapped: Sessions To Go ™ is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or supplement assessment and/or treatment by a licensed mental health professional.

Dr. Nicole Joseph © 2012



Dr. Nicole Joseph is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently works for The Child and Family Counseling Group. Dr. Joseph has experience counseling individuals, couples, parents and families. She received her undergraduate degree from American University and finished her Masters and Doctorate at the American School of Professional Psychology. For more information about Dr. Joseph, check out her website.









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