News & Articles

Active Body and Mind in the Winter Time

By Brittany Kochajda, L.M.S.W.

During the winter, the days typically feel short, dark and cold. And as a result, it can feel difficult to stay physically and mentally active. A contributing factor to this condition could be due to major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns. 

Studies from the Cleveland Clinic show 5 percent of people experience serious major depressive moods, with seasonal patterns. While 10-20 percent may experience only a mild case of major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns. Research has also shown that age can be a strong predictor of whether someone will develop a depressive mood with seasonal patterns. In particular, Younger people are at a higher risk for these winter depressive episodes.

To help you identify if this condition fits you or someone in your family, here are some of the symptoms that can occur:

  • During fall and/or winter you have a depressed mood most of the day nearly every day
  • A diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight loss/weight gain
  • Insomnia/Hypersomnia
  • Fatigue and/or Loss of Energy
  • Feelings of Worthlessness
  • Diminished ability to concentrate. 

The cold, dark days of winter can also make it difficult to find something to help alleviate a depressed mood. And as a result, we might engage in more isolating behaviors such as sleeping, playing video games, and watching TV or movies. It is important to remember the impact a cycle of inactivity can have on your physical and mental health. If an individual becomes stuck in this cycle, this person will be engaging in negative behaviors that can keep them in a depressive state. 

If you are concerned about a major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns, or are looking for strategies to stay physically and mentally active, below are some strategies to try to help with your mood. 

Exercise: It can feel difficult to engage in exercise in the winter when you feel confined indoors. But when you engage in exercise, your body releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your brain. Some options to still exercise during the winter are: fitness classes at the gym, exercise videos on YouTube, or utilizing fitness apps like Peloton.

  • Mindfulness Activities: Mindfulness activities can help you to feel more present in the moment instead of feeling “stuck” in your thoughts. A mindfulness activity you can try is called Rainbow Walk. You can look around the room or take a walk around the house to find 7 items that are red, then find 7 that are orange, and then 7 that are yellow. You continue finding 7 items until you have found all the colors of the rainbow. 
  • Scavenger Hunt: If you have children, a good way to keep everyone entertained at home is with a scavenger hunt. Your kids can bring you items that make them feel happy, are bumpy to the touch, are soft, or are of a particular color. This can also double as a mindfulness activity because your children are utilizing their senses to pay more attention to the items in their environment.
  • Sun Lamp: There are fewer hours of sunlight during the winter, which can make it hard to appropriately manage your sleep and wake cycle. A sun lamp acts like natural outdoor light. The lamp is also believed to have a positive impact on serotonin levels. 
  • Staying Connected: Sometimes a major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns can cause an individual to lose interest in engaging with others. It is important to continue spending time with friends and family. Some options to spend time with others are baking/cooking together, playing games, going bowling, going sledding, or making a craft together.
  • Talking to someone: If you are exhibiting signs of major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns, it’s important to talk to a family member, friend or therapist about what you are experiencing. Meeting with a therapist can help recognize the symptoms of major depressive mood, with seasonal patterns and develop healthy coping skills in order to improve your ability to function daily. 

If you still feel like you aren’t sure how to best support your child, teen or young adult. Child and Family Solutions Center is here to help. Please call us at 248-851-5437 to get  started with therapy services.