Easy Ways to Prevent Seasonal Depression

When it’s cold it’s hard to get motivated and find ways to be active indoors. Most people tend to experience symptoms of seasonal depression during the winter months, or those who suffer from depression year-round report an increase during this time of year.

But recent studies have shown that exercise and engagement in leisure and recreational activities are some of the best preventative treatments to reduce symptoms of depression. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, the first question I ask my patients is, “Why do you choose to do leisure or recreational activities of interest?” They almost always reply that what motivates them is having fun. And especially during the winter months, leisure and recreational activities can be fun – and even easy!

Below is a simple guideline to follow to increase your participation levels in these cold winter months:

  1. Change your perspective: Instead of thinking of recreational activities as something you have to do to be healthy, think of it as a reward for everyone in the family, and you’ll be more successful.
  2. Pick a time that works best for you: To help with consistency, set a time of day that works best for you, like before work or school, right after work or school, or after dinner.
  3. Take baby steps: Ideally, spending 30 minutes a day on leisure or recreational activities will give you the best outcome, but even 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. You can gradually work your way up to spending more time on individual or family activities. What matters most is that it’s something that’s fun, energizing and makes you happy.
  4. Mix it up: Don’t be afraid to be creative with the activities you choose to do. Finding ways to be active doesn’t have to be hard. Websites like FamilyCorner.com and Therapeutic Recreation boards on Pinterest have great indoor and outdoor leisure ideas for individuals and families. And YouTube and DVDs from the library can be a free and accessible way to exercise indoors. My personal favorite is to go for a walk with music, because it’s relaxing, a diversion, and an easy way to have fun!
  5. Make it a team effort: If you find yourself becoming unmotivated due to bad weather, find a friend, family member, or pet to join you.

If you continue to struggle with decreased activity, poor motivation and inability to have fun, you may benefit from a referral to Therapeutic Recreation. Please contact NCH Clinical Therapies Department for additional information on services and programs. Finding ways to be active this winter doesn’t have to be hard. Think outside of the box and make it fun.

Ashley Tuisku, CTRS
Ashley Tuisku obtained her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University. She started with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2011 as a contingent Therapeutic Recreation Specialist covering variety of units and diagnosis. In 2013, she started a new full time position on the Youth Crisis Stabilization Unit along with covering chronic gastrointestinal diagnosis and post-operative acute care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Ashley also has work experience at Ohio State University Harding Hospital in behavioral health and four years in skilled nursing setting.

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