The Cost Of Fighting The Winter Blues
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition in which many people feel symptoms of depression as a result of the winter, dark days and bleak weather. This is quite a serious situation, but many people will feel a persistent, lower mood throughout the cold months, which can seem to have a long-term effect on our mental and emotional wellbeing, resulting in impulsive or irresponsible decisions or overall feelings of despair.
The toll on our health and happiness is the real cost of the winter blues. Today, we are looking at the realistic steps you can take to avoid SAD and similar feelings. We are focusing on real changes that could prevent these feelings on a long term, rather than superficial pick-me-ups, which could leave you in a worse emotional, mental and financial situation than you were before. You don't need to wait until the new year to make changes.
Monday Morning Blues
Getting up in the morning is infinitely harder in the cold. However, Monday blues or even the Sunday fear syndrome could be causing you serious unhappiness, especially coupled with dark mornings, cold commutes and an increased chance of delays. If you already experience a dread of Monday mornings, then prepare yourself this winter and start considering your options.
Of course, it is easier said than done and it might not even happen this season but preparing yourself and thinking about what you really want to be doing, could give you a new purpose and the incentive to stay motivated and productive this winter. If you are really unhappy in your industry, you might consider speaking to a career counsellor or someone who can help you determine what you would actually like to be doing. We need purpose to be happy and fulfilled in our lives. It could be that you start your own business or re-train completely. There are some aspects of your career path you should incorporate into your job seeking, which could help you avoid winter blues:
Your commute - Is sitting in traffic or taking three trains the real reason you don't want to get up?
Your work / life balance - It might be that you want to slow down and prioritise your home life more in order to be happier throughout the winter. This will be a long-term, year-round decision though which could affect your finances.
New opportunities - If the reason you are not happy with your current role is because there has not been any progression, ensure you are making tactical moves into a position with opportunities, which could give you something to aim for.
After the summer months, winter is the most expensive time of the year. However, many that have had poor budgets and spend impulsively and erratically throughout the summer are left with debt or tight finances in the winter, with lots of upcoming expenditures in the festive period. Little or no financial cushion during the winter months could cause serious stress in your life, especially when faced with an unexpected heating bill, boiler breakdown or desperate car repairs.
It's important to keep a budget all year round, but it's important to remember you do have options and winter could be the perfect time to make long-term changes that you can reap the benefit of in the new year.
Take a year off from festive spending - buying gifts is lovely, but your nearest and dearest will understand if you can't manage elaborate gifts this year. A good compromise is to suggest secret Santa amongst your friends or family or to set a spending cap for presents. This could help preserve your budget and start building up a financial nest-egg, or simply prevent you from relying on credit this Christmas
Although not an option for everyone, those who are experiencing a financial emergency this winter might consider a payday loan as a temporary way help to get them through to the next cheque. This is not a long-term solution for your finances but could be necessary if you are in a tight spot.
Ask someone else to host Christmas - the burden of hosting can be a thrill, but also stressful and financially demanding. If you are normally the host for Christmas dinner, parties or celebrations, ask friends and family to take the reins for a year. Alternatively, ask that everyone brings a course or a dish.
Consider part time work - this is also not an option for everyone, but this is a hectic time of year for everyone and also a popular time to take holiday. Local restaurants, shops and businesses might be looking for seasonal, part time staff to bridge their own gaps. This could earn you a little extra money, allow you to meet new people and combat your winter blues. As an added bonus, it could stop you spending if you're busy at work, too!
One of the symptoms of SAD, identified by the NHS, is that you may be craving carbohydrates, which can cause you to gain weight. Moreover, feeling lethargic and having a lack of energy or interest is also a common indicator that you could be experiencing the winter blues.
As we've already said, you do not need to wait until new years day to get into shape. Start with your diet now, ensuring it is high in fibre and protein to give yourself healthy, slow-burn energy, rather than the fast release that is followed by a crash form carby, high-sugar meals. Remember, one of the reasons that the winter blues occurs is that the body is missing in important vitamins, including vitamins C, E and B-12. Incorporate leafy greens, forage, mushrooms, nuts, beans and citrus fruits into your diet to boost your mood, add exercise for a healthy body and a healthy mind, too!