I always find it really hard when the weather and seasons change, this affects my relationship, I find myself snappy and irritable towards my wife. How can I beat the winter blues?
It’s understandable that after a lovely summer of sun that it might be especially hard not to be affected by the winter blues. You might find your mood falling as fast as the temperature. And you are not alone: the change in seasons affecting our mood has been recognised as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD) which affects up to one in five people. Naturally this can also affect our relationships. The good news is there are many things that you can do to feel better.
One of the things that has a huge impact is shorter amounts of light in the day, soon enough many people will find themselves leaving work in the dark and coming home in the dark.
You have to make sure you take in light during the day, that means getting out into the fresh air at lunch time. Sit close to a window if you can and try with artificial light to make spaces you are in as bright as possible. You can combine getting this with getting exercise; exercising for 60 minutes three times a week or 35 minutes five times a week has been proven to help mild to moderate depression.
You can also combine this with spending quality time with your wife: get out for a hike or a walk at the weekend together and reconnect. Getting outside is also crucial to getting enough vitamin D, a lack of which can impact our mood; we often don’t get enough of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ in Ireland, that is why some winter sun might be just the tonic you need, or at least try taking a vitamin D supplement.
The winter blues may cause you to crave sugary foods but these will only make you feel worse, causing you to crash and feel lethargic and irritable. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, good fats (like avocados and handfuls of nuts) as well as protein.
The music you listen to, the books you read and the TV you watch can have an impact on your mood. Create a positive playlist that you can listen to.
It would be a great time to volunteer: according to a recent research project at Exeter Medical School volunteering leads to increased well being and lower levels of depression.
Have you got a good sleep routine? It’s important to get up at the same time each morning and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, so ensure you have a good bedtime ritual to help you fall asleep.
Make sure you make time each day to pray, to be present with God and give yourself time and space to breathe. It is a good habit so start and end each day with gratitude, thinking of things you are thankful to God for. Show this gratitude to your wife too, maybe starting or ending the day by telling her something you are thankful to her for.
And remember: if you find yourself still feeling low and unable to cope, seek advice from a counsellor, or an organisation such as Aware or Pieta House.