Unable to Come Out of the Winter Funk? How to Get Help

Unable to Come Out of the Winter Funk? How to Get Help

The first couple months of winter can be a delight, warmed by crackling fires, cozy sweaters, and holiday cheer. The last couple months of winter can also be a slog, haunted by cloudy skies, freezing air, and long, dark nights.

It’s not uncommon for these latter months to take a toll on your mental health. The dreary days start blending together and spring can feel like an eternity away. However, it’s important to hold out hope. For it quite literally gets darker just before the light returns, and spring is just around the corner. Here are a few ways you can deal with the winter funk and persevere ‘till warmer weather eventually wins.

Seek Proper Help

Persevering through hard times often means relying on your inner strength. However, in the end, you are only human: a beautiful, yet flawed and deeply social creature. Humanity hasn’t endured millenia of dark and stormy nights by isolating. Rather, people turn to each other for comfort and support in times of trouble. So take after all those who’ve walked before you and do the same.

Reach out to the people you’re closest to and ask for help. Asking for help could be as simple as getting coffee with your best friend once a week. Or it could be as vulnerable as admitting feeling weak to a trusted confidant. So go to that movie with a friend, go out on that prospective date, or cook that dinner with your family. The point is to cultivate inner strength by leaning on your social connections rather than retreating from them.

That said, maybe you feel like you don’t have anyone you can turn to. If you truly feel alone, or feel that your social ties aren’t sufficient support, seek professional help. Consider meeting with a therapist to regularly untangle the web of thoughts and feelings you’re struggling with. Or consider mental health rehab if you’re suffering from acute depression or harmful, invasive ideations. Just remember that everyone needs help sometimes, and that you are not in the wrong for asking for it.

Soak Up Some Sun

If you feel down in winter, there’s a good chance the reason could be as simple as not getting enough sunlight. People aren’t so different from plants insofar as they need regular amounts of sun to function properly. Sunlight exposure triggers your body to synthesize vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining good health. It also helps regulate your sleep cycle, your mood, and, for some, it may even encourage your appetite.

The problem is that getting enough sun during winter can be tough. Sure, you may go outside now and then. But between the shorter daylight hours and inclement weather, it can be hard to really soak in some rays. At least not like in summer, when warm weather and longer days encourage you to sunbathe. So it’s important to make sure you actually go out of your way to get enough light during these darker months.

Thankfully, getting more sunlight can be as simple as making the effort to stay outside a bit longer during the day. Schedule a time to take a daily walk, even if it’s cold, for at least 15 minutes. And for added help, especially when the sun isn’t shining at all, get a SAD lamp. This little box of light mimics the sun, easing some symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. It may seem simple, but the difference in mood from getting more sun in winter can be night and day.

Follow Your Passion

The days can be bleak and same-y in winter, to the point that life may feel a bit meaningless. So combat your boredom with some good, old-fashioned fun! Exploring your passions, or discovering what they are, is a great way to inject your life with a good dose of fulfillment. Unless your passion is summer-oriented, like beach volleyball, now is the time to pursue it.

Pursuing your passion can help you enter a flow state where you’re fully immersed in the present moment. So dust off your guitar, open your sketchbook, hit the gym, and roll those d20. Not only can doing something meaningful lend a sense of purpose to life, but can also help you destress. Bonus points if you pursue your passion’s social intersection for a boost of camaraderie. You could join a band, take an art class, a spin class, or start a DnD campaign, for example.

Don’t have a passion or don’t know what yours is? Well, you’re in luck because there’s never been a better time to search than now! You can research and watch others exploring their interests on sites like YouTube and Twitch. And you can connect with others on hobby and passion-specific apps like Discord or Meetup. So many people are sharing their interests online that there’s almost certainly a door out there just waiting for you to open it.

Be Proactive

No matter what you do to beat the winter blues, be proactive about it. Depressive, negative, or otherwise heavy thoughts have a tendency to make people passive, lethargic, and self-loathing. So while it can be hard to summon the energy, it’s important to prioritize your own health in dark times. It can be difficult, but, as with most things, starting is often the hardest part. Once you get the ball rolling — are drinking in sunshine and enjoying hobbies with friends — today’s troubles might feel worlds away.

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