Fighting Winter Blues With Hope

One of the hallmark symptoms of weather-related distress is a general feeling of hopelessness.

As the winter months persist, Convoy of Hope wants to encourage you in the pursuit of hope. Whether you are one of the five percent of American adults who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or simply find yourself having a bad day, there are a handful of steps you can take to maintain a sense of hope. 

Hope is often linked to our feelings about the future. Multiple studies have shown that wishing can oftentimes lead to feelings of despair and inadequacy. In contrast, hope is rooted in action and attainable goals. Setting goals and working toward them can have a profound effect on hopefulness and an individual’s sense of purpose. 

“Take goals, motivation, pragmatic action, optimism and add to that social connections, which have been identified as fundamental to hopefulness, and you’ve got the ingredients of hope…. envision specific future goals in such a way that the goal comes alive. Then, create pathways toward the goal,” behavioral clinician Christy Matta says.

Dr. Richard Shelton, vice chair for research in the department of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine, recommends a solution that only requires a simple revision of your daily routine: Go outside.

“Get out of your house or apartment and go for a walk, preferably every day and preferably in the morning if you can.” Shelton recommends that those who have found themselves working from home during the pandemic use their lack of commute to their advantage. “Whatever your commute time was before, take a significant chunk of that time to be outside. Just convert the commute time for either time for social interaction or time to go outside and get light exposure.”

Finally, author and psychologist Karyn Hall, Ph. D., recommends shifting your perspective outward. “Doing acts of kindness can have a dramatic effect on your mood and outlook. Kindness triggers the release of serotonin, so it has an antidepressant effect,” said in an article titled, “Finding Hope.” “It also calms stress and helps reduce pain. Small acts of kindness that you do repeatedly can help you feel more connected and have a greater sense of contribution. Notice that doing acts of kindness repeatedly is important.”

As warmer and brighter weather slowly draws nearer, remember that hope may not always be as far away as it seems. Whether you have hope or you are pursuing it, there are opportunities to share kindness and positivity with others — often to your mutual benefit.

Convoy of Hope remains committed to providing help and hope year-round to those who need it. We hope to do that through our work and by inspiring you to live a joyful life. Together, we can make brighter days in every season, and inspire hope in every storm.

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