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5 ways to beat the winter blues

As the dropping winter temperatures drive many inside, the winter blues can affect anyone and can creep up from nowhere. Seasonal affective disorder is extremely common during the holiday season, so much so that many don’t realize it’s affecting them. From the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, isolation into the indoors, and loneliness the winter blues can sneak into each of our lives without us noticing. That’s why it seemed good to compile a few ways to help combat the winter blues before they interfere with our holiday season.

1. Get outside. Much of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the winter blues, can be attributed to staying inside for longer than we should because the chilling winds chase us in. It’s been proven that light, even artificial light, can be one of the most effective ways to combat the winter blues. This doesn’t mean you have to go on a cold morning walk down Main to get your morning coffee (unless you like cold hands). We recommend simply enjoying your favorite winter sports. Whip out your skis, check out some of the local ice skating opportunities, or even head to the hot springs to get that vitamin D back into your system.

2. Exercise. Yes, we know that you’ve heard this a million times, but hear us out. When you exercise, your mind releases endorphins which make you happy. These endorphins are similar to those released when you complete a task or accomplish a goal. We could get more into the science of it, but the gist of it is simple. Exercise makes you happy… well, maybe not in the moment, but after the fact.

3. Phone a friend. Have you ever heard of talk therapy? There’s a fair amount of research on the positive effects of talk therapy, or psychodynamic therapy, but the main idea is that you’re given the chance to simply talk about what’s on your mind and not be judged for it. Try calling a friend or family member who you know will be there to simply listen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or lost this winter, sometimes simply telling someone about it helps put things into perspective. If you don’t feel comfortable going to someone in your life, there are many counseling opportunities in the Durango area.

4. Get creative. We recommend this for those who are feeling a little off this winter. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or alone try and focus these emotions into something positive. Ask yourself, what makes me feel alive, and pour your heart into it for just an hour. Do you love to write? Bust out a chapter or two of a story you’ve had in your mind for months. Or dust off your old guitar and play till your fingers can take no more. Simply finding an outlet for your emotions can do wonder for the winter blues.

5. Do nothing. Though it may not be possible to take an entire day off from the world, most of us could spare just a simple hour. If you’re feeling like the season is getting to be a bit much, take some time to do absolutely nothing. When you come home at the end of a rough day, instead of turning on the TV or jumping online take an hour to just sit with yourself. Pray, meditate, or just take some time to simply feel your emotions. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or stressed at the end of the year.

Though these tips may help beat those winter blues, they are not the end of the discussion. There are many other resources available in the Durango area both in person or just a phone call away.

  • Axis Health System has a 24-hour hotline and can be reached at (970) 247-5245
  • National Suicide Prevention can be reached 24 hours a day at 800) 273-8255
  • National Crisis text Hotline can be texted 24/7 at 741741
  • Safe2Tell Colorado can be reached 24/7 at (877) 542-7233
  • Colorado Crisis Services has professionals available to talk at (844) 493-8255
  • Trevor Project can help with an LBTQ+ crisis at (866) 488-7386 or online.

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