With the winter months approaching, mood can worsen, resulting in a condition known as “the winter blues.” People often resort to staying inside more, and motivation declines. It is easy to fall into a comfortable routine with little variance.
Routines are great for creating order and consistency in our lives. Overall, people respond well to maintaining a set schedule. However, routines can become mundane. Over time, a routine without any excitement can lead to feelings of depression. This has been the case with many of the individuals I work with in therapy.
Here are four ways to change up your routine and beat the winter blues.
Schedule Things to Look Forward To
I often hear from my clients about struggles with anticipation anxiety – worrying about what’s to come this week. If we can have this type of negative anticipation, we can certainly have some more positive experiences in our lives. Having something you feel excited about each week gives us that anticipation for fun. This doesn’t have to be something that costs a lot of money or takes up a lot of your time. Perhaps it is meeting a friend for lunch, going to see a holiday show, or reengaging in an old hobby.
Try Something New
Novelty releases dopamine, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Trying new things decreases boredom and presents a challenge. It switches things up. If you don’t end up liking the new activity, at least you can say you tried. In many cases, you’ll end up enjoying the activity in the long term.
Set Short-term Goals
Long-term goals are great, but focusing on more immediate goals usually helps the individual follow through. Short-term goals provide short-term motivation- something that is lost when feeling depressed. Working towards and reaching goals provides a sense of purpose and achievement in our lives. Keep them attainable, time sensitive, and enjoyable.
Unless you engage in a winter sport such as skiing, chances are, you’re less active during this time of the year. Finding a new winter exercise routine has many benefits. Exercise promotes positive mood, as it releases various neurotransmitters that makes us feel happy and energized. It also reduces stress.
With less sunshine, our internal clocks can be altered, which leads to a change in sleep patterns. Exercise promotes better sleep. Joining a class or gym helps us get out of the house and promotes socialization.
Whether you experience a change in mood in the winter months or throughout the entire year, working with a therapist can help you evaluate what may be the cause and how to manage it. The Light Program has trained therapists at multiple locations in Southeastern Pennsylvania – find the nearest location for you.