Another February has come and gone, and with it, another Groundhog Day has passed us by. This year, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow when he popped out of his burrow. For anyone familiar with this tradition, this means the country can expect an early start to the spring.
Although Groundhog Day is a much-loved custom in North America, one look outside your window might prove this rodent wrong. Snow, slush, or ice-rain may greet your peek through the blinds.
With a view like that, it’s little surprise you retreat back to the folds of your blanket. But too much time held hostage by winter can leave you feeling low. Cabin fever and the winter blues are two realities of a lengthy winter, and they may have you spending more money than you should as you try to boost your mood.
Here at MoneyKey, we don’t think you need to drop a fortune to find a distraction from the season. To make sure you protect your wallet from winter’s icy clutches, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to beat the winter blues.
The winter blues describe the low feeling some people experience during the coldest, darkest season. While most people feel a touch of the blues now and then, it can be more than just a seasonal funk for some. Otherwise known as darkness depression or winter syndrome, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinical depressive disorder tied to the seasons, impacting an estimated 10 million Americans.
Symptoms of SAD typically bookend the winter, largely in part because of the weather. Not only are there fewer sunny days, but the season’s extreme weather warnings may cause people to be less active and more isolated than they would be in the summer. These conditions may exacerbate negative emotions, causing people to feel sluggish and uninterested in things they usually enjoy.
Whether dealing with SAD or run-of-the-mill blues, some people try treating their symptoms with excessive spending. After all, who hasn’t relied on retail therapy as a pick-me-up or used the promise of a sunny vacation as a distraction?
Unfortunately, these are expensive options in your fight against the winter doldrums. As a company committed to responsible lending practices, we encourage our borrowers to make smart financial decisions. And, depending on your budget and whether you’re using cash advance loans, impulse shopping and traveling might not be the right fit for your finances.
If you think you might have SAD, we encourage you to seek out a health professional to discuss your mental health. Otherwise, here are some affordable tips to help you keep your spirits and bank balance up until spring!
There’s a reason why your late-winter fantasy may involve a sandy beach and the hot sun shining bright overhead. The sun is where most people get a large portion of their Vitamin D.
Several studies show there’s a link between Vitamin D and your mental well-being — people with Vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to experience depression.
Making sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D can be challenging in the winter. It’s not as sunny, and when it is, most people are bundled up under several layers to keep the chill at bay. Swaddled under coats and scarves, your skin can’t absorb as much as it would during the rest of the year.
When you can’t get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, what you eat becomes an important way to meet your needs. Make sure you load up on foods high in Vitamin D, like:
You may also want to consider using Vitamin D supplements to help you reach your daily recommended intake. Ask your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking anything to make sure this option is the right choice for your health.
Eating well goes beyond a single vitamin; it relies on a well-rounded diet rich in carbs, proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables to give your body the fuel it needs. When you manage to hit your daily requirements for calories and nutrients, you’ll likely start to feel better — physically and mentally.
While no diet can completely cure mental health issues, it can help your brain perform functions that affect your mood and ability to think critically. Eating the right stuff helps you manage your emotions better.
The only problem is, it’s hard spending time in the kitchen whipping up something delicious and nutritious when you aren’t feeling your best. When the winter blues strike, you’re more likely to get takeout or polish off a bag of chips for dinner than slave away in the kitchen.
To make sure you don’t fall prey to UberEats or any of the other all-too-convenient meal ordering apps, you need to ensure cooking is the easiest option. Rather than committing to a meal plan that could take hours of prep on top of lengthy cooking times, opt for recipes that you can put together with minimal effort.
Here are some other tips to help you eat better:
Without the sun, it can be hard to break up your day — especially if you get to work before the sun rises and come home long after it sets. You may settle into a grinding routine of going to work and going home to sleep before starting it all over again for weeks on end. The result? You may feel worn out and miserable.
Researchers studying the psychological effects of darkness suspect the lack of sunlight may be one of the reasons why people feel depressed during the winter.
If you suspect a lack of sunlight as the reason behind your blues, you may want to try light therapy. Some doctors believe sitting in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day may hold the answers. A light box is a device that shines a light 100 times brighter than the typical indoor light bulb and may be as effective as antidepressant medications when treating SAD.
While some official SAD lamps may be expensive, running as much as $500 for a single light box, you may find some for as low as $60. If you aren’t sure if this is something you can afford, check in with our educational resources to learn how to save up for a big purchase. Also, make sure to check with your doctor before trying light therapy.
Everyone has a night or two when it’s hard to fall asleep. Maybe there’s something stressful on your mind, or you’re glued to a TV screen until the early hours of the morning. By the time your alarm clock rings a few hours later, you feel terrible. For the rest of the day, your concentration’s shot and you’re irritated by everyone and everything.
One night of poor sleep can leave you feeling like a zombie, but an erratic sleep schedule may have long-term effects on your health. A good night’s sleep can help improve your immune system, prevent heart disease, and boost your mental well-being. When you don’t get enough of it, you could be doing serious harm to yourself.
Most adults should get anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, yet approximately only half of them get the amount they need according to one study. If you struggle with getting enough Zs during the winter, you may need to improve your sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is the culmination of your habits that help contribute to a quality night’s sleep and full daytime alertness. These habits may vary from person to person, but in most cases, they include:
Tempting though it may be to binge-watch your favorite series wrapped up in a blanket burrito, this sedentary habit can leave you feeling blue if that’s all you do in your spare time.
Moderation is the key to everything in life, including physical activity. Balancing your time on the couch with active moments in- and outdoors will help improve your mental well-being. That’s because regular exercise releases endorphins and serotonin, and these “feel-good” hormones help boost your mood and ease symptoms of depression.
Now, when most people think about working out, they picture doing it at the gym, but there’s more than one way to work up a sweat. Some options that don’t involve cumbersome equipment or an expensive membership include:
When the temperature’s less than ideal, your home is likely a refuge you aren’t willing to leave unless it’s for the essentials. Get up, go to work, drive home, eat, watch tv, sleep, rinse, and repeat. It’s all too easy to slip into this routine, but it’s a prime recipe for boredom. You’ll feel like you’ve hit a slump in no time.
If you’re feeling squirrely from your boring routine, it’s time to go on the prowl for a hobby you can feel excited about. Not only will it fill your time, but it will stimulate your brain as you try to master an unfamiliar skill.
What you decide to learn is totally up to you, but we’ve come up with a list of fulfilling hobbies if you aren’t sure where to begin:
With the fridge fully stocked and your time spent learning new skills, you can easily isolate yourself if you’re not careful.
Although it may be unintentional, your time as a hermit can have a negative impact on your mental health. It may deepen feelings of depression, orlead to cabin fever — or a feeling of claustrophobia when you’re stuck indoors for too long.
Humans are highly social beings, so regular social activity may have a positive impact on your mental well-being. So make a point of scheduling time with friends and family.
Here are some other ways you can spend time with others:
Although it may be a struggle to find the time at first, you’ll forget how hard it was to leave your house once you make a habit of volunteering or attending a free club. Before you know it, you’ll start to look forward to catching up with new and old friends.
Sometimes, Old Man Winter can wear out not only his welcome but your patience, too. Stuck indoors for months waiting for him to leave can lead you to make poor financial decisions as you try to beat the winter blues.
Although they may be fun in the moment, these purchases aren’t always in your budget’s best interest. As an online lender of installment loans and personal lines of credit, we understand the importance of your financial health.
If you live on a tight budget, skip over costly band-aid solutions that do nothing to treat the real cause of your winter blues. Try improving your diet and sleep schedule in addition to filling your time with friends, hobbies, and physical activity. With a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep, you’ll be in a better position to handle whatever the winter throws at you.
You’ll also likely reach the spring with a better handle on your money. But don’t worry if the combination of the holidays and wintertime expenses cleared out your emergency fund. When we aren’t dispensing blues-busting tips, we’re helping people find online loans — just check out these reviews from past clients to see how we’re committed to providing a fast, simple, and friendly way to get the cash you need.
Get in touch if you think an installment loan or line of credit could help with an urgent and unexpected bill. Otherwise, dive into a new hobby and wait out the spring — it’ll be here before you know it!