Overcoming This Winter's Low Mood

by - January 15, 2018

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It's been two weeks since you've welcomed in the new year, still waking up from the sweet holiday slumber and you've probably already found yourself swamped by work, deadlines, expectations, mundane chores and frustration. Spring is too far away, the weather gets even colder and vacations are not planned for another six months. The time between January and April is more likely to increase the probability of low mood, predisposition to depression and general mental and physical fatigue. You risk becoming more vulnerable to challenges and less adaptive when it comes to handling daily problems. The reasons could be multiple depending on you individually, your levels of stress-resilience, coping strategies, but also chemical balance.

Some people's state of well-being is affected by the weather and its low temperatures, making their trip to work harder and more stressful. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is also more prominent during these three months due to the limited available sunlight. Reduced exposure to sunlight is linked with low serotonin (i.e. the 'happiness hormone') and rises in melatonin, known for increasing sleepiness, which can also be a contributing factor to an overall low mood during the winter.

The lack of festivities to look forward to (and the looming Valentine's Day for those without a special someone) can also make you feel overwhelmed with negative emotions, left with very little motivation and a gloomy outlook. We tend to stay at home, overindulging on food and watching TV or battling the low mood by going on wild drinking sprees on Saturday nights in attempts to cheer ourselves up. But neither of those maladaptive coping mechanisms can actually alleviate the way we feel. It's normal to feel 'a bit off' during the winter, you're not alone in this. But instead of trying to shut your emotions down, acknowledge and accept them. The sooner we become more emotionally aware, the better we can react and adopt healthier practices. Here are a few techniques I hope you'll find helpful in the next few months and bring your mood back on track.

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Often during this time of the year, the emotions we feel towards already existing problems in our life can be enmeshed and confused with the low mood that winter brings. The first step to improving your emotional state is being aware of what it is exactly that you feel. Let's say you come home from work in the evening and you feel a bit down. Can you try to pinpoint the emotion? Is it just tiredness? Perhaps you spent too much time working this week and you feel overwhelmed and all you need is a bit of rest, but maybe you feel worn out and discouraged, because you stopped seeing the value in what you do? Or is it loneliness and hopelessness, coming from other issues aside from work? If we understand and label our emotions better, we have a higher chance of successfully regulating them. If you realize that what you feel is discouragement, for example, you can think of an adequate solution - voice your concerns with your superiors or choose a project or even another job that's more in line with your goals and values.

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Those few months of winter can be challenging to our well-being and at the same time we can't shield ourselves from the real world, our jobs and responsibilities. If you're already feeling low when you wake up, you might be more vulnerable to the external stressors causing your stress levels to rise, making it harder to have a day where you feel confident and at ease managing your daily challenges. With this mixture of low mood and everyday problems and demands, you become more susceptible to negative thoughts, fears and doubts. It's like, let's say, you have an armor of positive emotions such as self-belief, motivation, excitement, collectedness and others that basically guide your approach to life and help you achieve your goals, but when you're feeling overwhelmed and mentally and physically exhausted with little motivation and energy to go on, your armor gets thinner and thinner until not much of your positive emotions are left. Instead, negative ones take their place and navigate your life. All those negative thoughts of doubts, insecurities and fears make you more vulnerable and your day way more difficult than it should be and sometimes impossible to handle. You begin to get used to the negativity your mind feeds you with and push away the positive thoughts that try to break through.

What you can do (yes, you can) to prevent this from happening is to never give room to the negative thoughts and emotions to feel at home. Clutch to the positive emotions you have and build more. It's not easy and it requires a great amount of practice, but I can tell you from experience that it does work. Wake up and say to yourself that your mood is not in charge of your day or you. You are in charge of your day and in charge of your mood. If you feel low and you want to change that, you can. Repeat your best encouraging quotes and thoughts that build your positive emotions, remind yourself of who you are and what you want from life, listen to your favorite upbeat songs and shut down any negative thought that comes in your way - any doubt or fear. You can handle any difficult day no matter how low you already feel. I already know that you have the abilities and confidence to tackle any challenge. Every individual has the inner strength to take on the challenges they face. But what's important is for you to know it. 

Let us know how you're hanging on this winter and don't hesitate to reach us if you're feeling like you need some extra help and advice - that's what we're here for! We've all been there and know how hard sometimes life can feel like. We'll be happy to answer any questions, provide additional information or clear out any doubts and issues you might be having! You don't have to struggle on your own.

Inner Quiet is all about you. We will tackle the thoughts and fears of living in a world that keeps going even when you feel that you need a break. When a stressful life wraps you in its claws with no-way-out, we will try to show you another possibility, another solution, another way. No matter what you do or what you want to see yourself doing, we want to help you to shine through you. To be a human is hard enough without the constant pressure of being perfect and in this day and age we might feel it's impossible to live free of self-imposed constraints and others' expectations. Let's prove it wrong.

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