By the end of February, it gets pretty old…. the short days, the cold, the snow… and the lack of sunshine really takes a toll.
Many of my clients experience seasonal fluctuations in mood, sometimes called winter depression, the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But many who don’t have SAD still do experience problems with feeling down or depressed during winter.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the best treatment for that – I use it with clients for relief from seasonal mood issues. In addition, here are some unique and fun tips for making it through the rest of the winter, with a little light, a little sun, a little fun, a little warmth…
Warming Ways to Weather Winter
- Light Therapy . Small and affordable light therapy devices, sometimes called “happy lights” are built specifically for therapeutic use. This therapeutic light enters through your eyes (not your skin) and may affect the circadian rhythm and/or neurotransmitters that improve mood.
My favorite one is about 5 1/2″ square and super easy to use because you can do anything while having the light sitting within 30″ of your face. I use it while on the computer, eating breakfast, or reading. Here’s an Amazon.com link to the one I use: Philips GoLite Blu Light Therapy
- Sundara . What is this? The name of the most amazing spa in Wisconsin, located in Wisconsin Dells. This one is a super luxury. The spa services are expensive but included with your spa service you get to spend the whole day lounging around their facility feeling like it’s summer out. Wear a soft robe and slippers that they provide as you lounge around in their quiet room with a good book. Whenever you feel like it, take a dip in the outdoor pools and hot tub, or sit out by the fire pit. What a great chance to be outdoors (in your swim suit!) in winter and soak up some real light therapy from the sun. There’s also indoor hot tubs and a really nice “bathing ritual” that is so unique I don’t want to give it away.
- Infrared Sauna. This is not your regular old sauna. Warm up to the core in these free standing units. Sit in it and crank the temperature up to 140 degrees. Don’t worry, it’s a dry heat that comes from infared lights. Not only is it a great way to warm up (okay, plan to sweat like crazy), it’s also good for detoxification, blood flow, healthy skin, and much more. You’ll find these in many wellness clinics.
- Hot Yoga. My favorite is Bikram Yoga (with locations in Brookfield and downtown Milwaukee) where a specially designed heating system goes up to something like 105 degrees for your 90 minute yoga session. Other yoga studios in the area offer other varieties of hot yoga. You’ll warm up all the way down to your bones and won’t even notice the cold weather when you walk out afterward. Pretend it’s summer!
- Rainforest Cafe. Have lunch or dinner in a tropical rainforest setting. Pretend you’re in Costa Rica or Belize or ?? There’s exotic fish tanks and you’ll sit among the trees with rainforest sounds and props all around. A fun way to escape winter for a little while. There’s one at Gurnee Mills Mall.
- Hot Tub or Regular Sauna. Forget winter when you spend an overnight at a hotel (even if it’s just a few miles from home!) and lay around in your swim suit by the pool. Make sure they have a hot tub and sauna to really warm up! This getaway can do wonders. Alternatively, you could find a workout club that offers the same amenities – maybe a day pass?
- The Domes. When’s the last time you visited Mitchell Park Domes? Escape the cold and go to another climate. Experience the plants and the temperatures of the desert and the tropics all in one day.
- Red Light Therapy. This is NOT a tanning bed but it looks like one. Red light therapy is available at spas and wellness clinics. It uses special non-UV LED light that is said to help both skin conditions and mood.