Navigating Winter Blues: Expert Tips from Behavioral Health Manager, Dr. Shannon Hart

by | Mar 1, 2024 | News, Newsletter

Shannon HartAs we find ourselves deep into months of cold and snow, our Behavioral Health Manager, Dr. Shannon Hart, PHD, LCSW, shares expert insights to overcome the challenges of the season. Emphasizing the importance of fresh air, natural light, and engaging activities, Dr. Hart provides practical tips to support our mental well-being during the long winter days in Illinois.

1. Embrace the Winter Air: “In the winter months, we are tempted to stay inside, wrapped in a blanket. Try to get out into fresh air at least once every day! You don’t need to run a marathon—a walk around the block (be careful of ice and snow!) or even just a walk to the mailbox can help. When you are outside, take some deep breaths to give your lungs some fresh air.”

2. Light Up Your Days: “If you need to stay inside due to weather or physical limitations, consider using a lightbox or full-spectrum light bulbs. They are available in most stores and online. Time in front of them each day can make a significant difference.”

3. Maintain Sleep Routines: “Try to keep your typical sleep routines, even when it’s dark in the morning. If you can sleep with your curtains open to allow the natural light to wake you, it will keep your circadian clock on schedule. And if it’s sunny—open those curtains and let all that sunlight in! Our brains need to have as much light as we can give them. And speaking of sunshine—on those sunny days (they do happen!), get outside as much as possible to allow for some Vitamin D. Standing on your patio or driveway and just breathing on a sunny day can make a huge difference!”

4. Keep Your Brain Active: “If you are stuck inside, try a new hobby or one you haven’t done in a while—remember how much you used to enjoy… needlepoint? Oil painting? Commit to reading a new book every month…keeping our brains busy is the key to keeping them healthy.”

5. Reach Out and Connect: “As always, if you find yourself feeling down or losing energy or at all hopeless, please remember to reach out to someone! 988 is the number to call if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. Otherwise, call a friend or relative or seek help from a counselor or support group. Don’t let the winter months make you feel isolated—you aren’t alone!”

Try out some of Dr. Hart’s tips and see what impact they have on your mood and energy levels. Taking proactive steps for our mental health empowers us to embrace the season with a positive mindset.

This article was republished from our Winter 2023/2024 Newsletter. Click here to read our full Winter Newsletter!

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