So it’s the middle of January, the holidays are over, and the beginning of the New Year has arrived. Sometimes people feel hopeful about the New Year, and in many cases for people who have eating disorders, there is a worry that they have put on extra pounds over the holidays, and are not feeling at their prime due to weather. In essence, the “winter blues” may have arrived!
Dealing with the “winter blues” or general depressive symptoms that may increase this time of year, can be hard to take. In Indiana and the Midwest, we have far more cloudy days during the winter, which definitely affects our mood. So, if you have an eating disorder, which is difficult enough, due to the weather, people can feel isolated, sad, and oftentimes can become more depressed. So, having an action plan can be very helpful to combat negative or sad feelings.
So, what do I recommend for the winter blues?
- Resisting the temptation to isolate when you don’t feel like being around people. It’s the worst thing you can do, even though that is what you WANT to do. Try to force yourself to plan something with a friend, or at least tell a friend that you are feeling more down, and that you need to get out and do something—go to a movie, take up bowling, go to the pet store and pet some animals, etc.
- Tell your friends and loved ones that you need a little extra support. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and even if they don’t, they most likely will be able to empathize with the winter blues and will be happy to help support you by listening or helping you to get out.
- Take a walk for at least ten minutes when you see any sign of sun. Research tells us that even a minimum of ten minutes on a sunny day will increase your feelings of well being, so bundle up and get out in the sun even when it’s cold!
- Keep moving—even if you don’t feel like exercising, try to keep moving. Look up a 10 minutes Pilates or Yoga video on YouTube—you would be surprised how motivational these few minutes can be, and it will make your body feel better.
- Keep eating well. It’s hard not to want to emotionally eat or restrict when you feel worse, so do your best to plan ahead and think about what you need to eat for nourishment. If you are more on the restrictive side, plan ahead and focus on what you need to be getting in concerning nourishment. If you are on the emotional or over-eating side, plan ahead and focus on eating snacks that are healthy and satisfying, so you won’t have the urge to binge or emotionally eat due to not planning ahead.
- I see several Indiana University students; so if it gets difficult, you feel alone, and you feel that nobody understands, join the campus eating disorder support group, which is confidential, so you may have the opportunity to talk with others who understand.
Winter doesn’t have to be so gloomy. In order to prevent or manage the winter blues, it takes some effort to plan ahead and keep your head above water. I encourage you to get out—spring will be here soon! ☺