Fighting off late winter depression
If you’re feeling down in the dumps lately, you’re certainly not alone.
For some Garden State residents, late winter can be even more depressing than the start of the winter season, when it first gets dark, dreary and cold.
“This can be a tough time of year for many of us," said. Dr. Steven Tobias, a psychologist based in Morristown.
Tobias said for some people the weather has a lot to do with their late winter blues.
"I think people are just tired of winter already," Tobias said. “When you don’t really feel like going outside and there’s nothing going on, it certainly does have an impact on your emotional status."
For other people, Tobias said they might be impacted by the fact that most of the big holidays, like Christmas and New Year's, are behind them so they don't have much to look forward to.
To fight the late winter blues, there are some dos and don’ts.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
Tobias said there’s definitely a correlation between exercise and a brighter mood.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re going to the gym or you’re working out, even if it’s cold or drab out, still go outside, take a walk,” Tobias said. “You kind of have to go against your instincts. Whereas your instincts tell you to hibernate like a bear, I think that’s when you have to get up and get out and be active.”
Spending time with loved ones is important and can go a long way to beating depression during the winter.
“With no major holidays it’s almost like there’s no excuse to get together with other people, so set up dates with friends. Make sure you go out, make sure you do things and see other people, and to really stay active and engaged with the world," Tobias said.
DON’T RELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES
Social media and television can be fun and informative, but it's definitely not the answer. In fact, it can make things worse.
“Make sure you don’t just sit in front of a screen because that’s going to get you more depressed," Tobias said.
So while binge watching the new season of "House of Cards" is out, so is constantly checking out social media sites.
"Studies show the more you use social media to communicate with others, if that becomes your primary source of interaction with others, the more lonely, isolated and depressed you’re going to get,” Tobias said.
DON’T OVERDO IT WITH DRUGS OR ALCOHOL
Tobias said the problem with human beings is that when we’re feeling down, the things we do usually wind up making us feel worse.
“If you’re trying to make yourself feel better by drinking or using drugs, short-term it dulls the pain or gives you something to do, but it’s certainly not going to make you feel better,” Tobias said.
Alcohol can be especially problematic because it's a depressant.
“It’s only going to make you feel worse if you’re depressed already,” Tobias said.
DON’T BINGE ON CAKES, COOKIES AND OTHER HIGH CARB, HIGH FAT FOODS
Tobias stressed taking care of your body is very important.
“Short-term fixes almost always wind up making us feel worse in the long run, whether it’s to have that drink or eat that piece of cake or just sit down in front of the TV,” Tobias said.