Surviving the January Blues

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Surviving the January Blues

It’s that time of the year again when a lot of people experience a touch of what is known as the January blues. The excitement of the holidays has passed, and everyone is returning to work or school. It doesn’t help that in a lot of places across the country, January is not what would be considered by many as a very nice weather month.

Between the cold weather, less sunlight, and shorter days, a lot of people may feel a little bit down and in the dumps. Did you know there is actually an official term for this? It is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it affects a lot more people than you may think. The good news is that there are remedies and different steps that you can take to make yourself feel better. 

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder 

SAD affects people differently. Some people might notice just slight symptoms here and there. For other people, it can actually be pretty debilitating and can impact the quality of their day-to-day life. They may struggle to perform their best at work or school. For some people, their SAD is so severe that even getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge. They may be tempted to turn to substance use to cope. 

In general, some symptoms commonly associated with SAD include: 

  • Feeling sad and not knowing why
  • Increased irritability 
  • A lack of motivation
  • Depression, listlessness, or hopelessness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling tired even after getting plenty of rest 
  • Changes in eating habits

Why We Feel the January Blues 

There are a lot of different factors that can play into why SAD occurs. Obviously, for those that love to spend time outdoors, it can be frustrating to be cooped up inside all of the time due to poor weather. The shortened days can also have an impact as the increased darkness can cause a person to feel as if they should be sleeping even when it is still early. 

Perhaps one of the greatest factors contributing to SAD is a decrease in exposure to vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for our mental and physical health. It helps to boost our mood, provide energy, and ensure a healthy immune system. We get vitamin D naturally from exposure to the sun. This is why you might feel a boost of energy or as if you’re in a better mood after spending some time outside in the sun. 

What happens when you become deficient in vitamin D as a result of decreased sunlight in the fall and winter months? Your mood can really be impacted. You may feel anxious or depressed. It may be harder for you to feel energized or motivated to get things done. 

Remedies for Beating the January Blues 

If you feel like you’re plagued with the January Blues, don’t worry. There are some things that you can do to start feeling better. 

#1. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

This can help make up for any deficiency you may have. These are typically available in the form of a pill or a gummy at most drug stores. There are a lot of different brands to choose from. If you’re not sure what brand or dosage is the right fit for you, be sure to consult your physician. You might be surprised by how much better you feel even after a short time of taking this supplement. 

#2. Make Sure That You’re Not Isolated From Others

It might seem like secluding yourself at home is the easiest way to deal with the emotions associated with this time of year. In reality, it is far better to make sure that you’re spending plenty of time with your family and friends. This will help take your mind off any glumness you may feel. 

#3. Get Outside, Even if the Weather Is Not Ideal

It might not be sunny or warm, but spending time outside is still important. Take the dog for a walk, or consider going for a quick bike ride just to get outdoors for a little while. 

#4. Get Your Blood Pumping Through Exercise

Physical exercise is great for your mental health and can alleviate symptoms of SAD. When you work out, your body releases endorphins which can further boost your mood. You don’t need to do a vigorous workout to feel a difference. Even just a quick 30-minute walk can make a huge difference. Can’t get to the gym? Consider pulling up a home workout tutorial online and following along. 

#5. Consider Investing in a SAD Light Therapy Lamp

This type of lighting can be purchased in many stores, including online. These special lamps provide a high voltage of light and can trick your brain into thinking you are out in the sun. 

January Blues is a real thing that affects countless people across the nation. Symptoms can vary from feeling irritable and a little down to being severely anxious, hopeless, or depressed. The technical term for this is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it is caused by shortened days, poor weather, and decreased exposure to vitamin D. There are certain remedies that can provide relief. It can help to take vitamin D supplements, get your blood pumping through a workout, spend time with family and friends, and invest in a light therapy lamp. If you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 today. 

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