While the snow, winter sports and Christmas markets can make winter in Germany a pleasant time of year, many people also experience something much darker: winter depression. Winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a depressive mood disorder that is generally believed to be caused by shorter daylight hours and a resulting increase in melatonin production in humans, resulting in feeling tired and unmotivated. Particularly those coming from warm, sunny countries may experience it. But don’t worry – a lot of research has been done on mood disorders and thankfully there are many things you can do to combat them. Here are five ways to avoid winter depression in Germany.
Learn languages at your pace
1. Get some daylight
Winter depression is best cured by providing your body with the thing it’s lacking: daylight! This means you should try and go outside despite the cold weather and make sure to get some sun on your skin. If you can’t manage to go outside every day during daylight hours, getting a light therapy lamp can also do the trick. In addition, dawn simulation has been shown to be helpful to people suffering from winter depression. There are many different types of sunrise lamps out there, so there is plenty to choose from!
Symptoms of depressive disorders, including winter depression, can be improved with exercise. Physical activity can decrease your stress and improve your serotonin levels, leading you to feel more active and happy. If you can’t access a gym, going outside for a short walk once a day may already be enough. This way, you can both get moving while also getting some sunlight!
3. Eat healthy
While eating healthy may always be good advice, it’s particularly important during the colder months. There are many foods that can affect your mood: For example, selenium-rich foods like nuts and seeds can improve your well-being. In addition, fresh vegetables and fruits can provide you with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Not only can a healthy diet improve your mood, but it can also lower your chances of catching a cold. Win-win!
4. Substitute Vitamin D
Winter depression has been linked to lowered vitamin D production. The reason for this is quite simple: Vitamin D is made in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight – and that can’t happen as much during the winter months, both because of less sunlight and more clothing covering our skin. As a result, you can try and take vitamin D supplements to help your body out. But be careful: An overdose of vitamin D supplements can result in vitamin D toxicity.
5. Do activities with your friends
Any depressive disorder often goes hand in hand with dark thoughts and more social isolation. However, giving in to those usually only makes matters worse. If you get the chance, try and hang out with friends in your free time to make some nice memories o – maybe even make some Christmas cookies together! It’s possible your friends even feel the same way about the lack of sunlight and can join you for a daily walk outside.
Walking in a winter wonderland (for your mental health)
So which one is the golden tip to avoid winter depression in Germany? You guessed it: All of the above! While all the five tips mentioned above are effective on their own, the best way to deal with the winter season in Germany is to make sure you get plenty of exercise outdoors, ideally with friends. For example, you can go for walks during lunch, go ice skating or do winter sports on the weekend. What better way to survive winter in Germany than having fun with some friends?
Learn languages at your pace
Anne is a German freelance writer and communication consultant. In addition to her job, she is the founder and coach of the Dutch not-for-profit organization CLUB Coaching. Due to her work, she resides in both Germany and the Netherlands. Whenever her time is not occupied with communication in all its forms, she spends time with her six pets, gardening or being creative with fashion and design. You can follow her on LinkedIn.