By guest writer: Sally
As winter continues to embrace the state of Virginia, those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) continue their emotional roller coaster. While Virginia does not experience the same deep freeze as Northern neighbors, the seasonal difference is still enough to give the state four distinct times of year. The weather in Virginia reaches lows of 45 with rainy winters that seem to chill the body to the bone. Clouds roll in, and the sun that provides essential mood enhancers spends less time in the sky. From young to old, Virginia residents fight off the winter blues, up to and including SAD, with a few expert tips, including hitting the beach or exploring the amazing Blue Ridge mountains.
The first defense against SAD or any other type of winter blues is to stay active. Virginia is ripe with opportunity for exercise, from boardwalks to mountain ranges. Take a walk outside whenever possible. When it’s raining or simply too chilly, invest in a gym or walk in a mall. Many public places, such as malls, offer walking programs. Go to the local YMCA to use the pool if walking isn’t interesting, or just dance in the living room. There are plenty of free workout videos online, so the opportunity to stay active does not end when the weather gets cold.
One of the top tips for fighting any type of depression is to stay social. Join a walking group or ask someone to commit to a weekly game of racquetball. Set a date with friends for dinner out, or look into volunteer opportunities. Check on elderly relatives, as the National Institute of Health reports that seniors have more depression issues. Helping with a senior’s care will help keep you social, and will hold back the winter blues. Interact with others on a regular basis, from friends to family, to help keep the winter blues away.
It’s most important to be honest about your feelings. It is okay to admit that you aren’t feeling as happy as you could. Many people experience some form of negative feelings during the winter months. Try fixing the issue with exercise and socialization. If these methods don’t work, talk to a professional. You may have deeper issues that need medical attention. Start with your doctor, who will check your blood counts. While Virginia residents are less likely to have low Vitamin D counts, the winter lasts long enough where this might become a problem. Vitamin D comes from the sun; a lack of it causes a weakened immune system, according to Healthline. If blood tests check out fine, you may need to proceed to a psychologist to have mental health checks.
Staying happy is part of staying healthy. When the winter blues hit, it could be sad, or it could be simple depression. Either way, it must be treated step by step to bring you back to a healthier you.