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About Mental Health

Try these 6 self-care strategies for the winter season.

As the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — approaches on Dec. 21, we are all experiencing shorter days and colder temperatures. For some people, this may cause dampened spirits and a sense of melancholy. But for about 5% of U.S. adults, the change in seasons can be more serious, causing a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

David Bond, director of Behavioral Health at Blue Shield of California

To shed light on ways to cope with the “winter blues,” we engaged Blue Shield of California Behavioral Health director David Bond, LCSW.

“During this time of year, it’s important to remember that self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential,” Bond said. “Embrace the changes, prioritize your well-being and seek support when needed. You have the power to navigate through these dark days and emerge even stronger in the new year.”

For those dealing with occasional blues, Bond suggests these simple, but effective ways to brighten your mood and navigate the season’s changes:

Embrace light and activity: Incorporate more light and physical activity into your daily routine. Open curtains, sit by windows and spend time outdoors during daylight hours. Engaging in regular exercise releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and energy levels.

Practice mindfulness and gratitude: Take moments to appreciate the small joys of the season — like the beauty of holiday lights or cozy evenings indoors. Cultivate mindfulness practices and gratitude exercises, which can help shift your mind away from negative thoughts.

Maintain social connections: Stay socially connected, even when the temptation to hibernate sets in. Plan activities with friends or loved ones, attend community events or join clubs to combat feelings of isolation commonly experienced during the colder months.

Maintain a healthy diet: In addition to regular exercise, focus on a nutritious diet. Incorporating wholesome foods rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly those containing omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can contribute to improved mental health.

For those dealing with more severe symptoms, akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder, Bond suggests these additional measures:

Utilize light therapy: Invest in light therapy boxes or lamps which mimic natural sunlight. Regular exposure to these lights, particularly in the morning, can alleviate SAD symptoms by regulating circadian rhythms and boosting your serotonin levels.

Consult a mental health professional: If feelings of sadness are persistent and interfere with daily life, seek help from a mental health professional.

Resources:

  • Mental health resources for Blue Shield members can be found here.
  • In addition, many Blue Shield of California members have access to the Wellvolution app with lifestyle-based tools to support mental health, help lose weight and treat diabetes.  Visit wellvolution.com to learn more.
  • For youth mental health resources, visit Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky website.

https://news.blueshieldca.com/2023/12/18/navigating-the-winter-blues-expert-tips-to-lift-your-mood-and-brighten-your-days