When old man winter arrives and delivers his day after day of grey skies and chilly temperatures, it is easy to find yourself in a depressive mood. During the winter, it is estimated 10 million Americans are impacted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — and of those, a majority are female. In fact, women are four times more likely to suffer from symptoms of SAD than men. With any kind of depressive disorder many people often turn to unhealthy ways to cope, which can display as impulsive spending to give your mood a boost or avoiding issues like paying bills – all of which can wreak havoc on your finances.
Emotions can have a big effect on spending habits. When we’re happy and want to celebrate, we may “treat” ourselves, or if we’re in a less than stellar mood we may find ourselves partaking in a little “retail therapy”. When we’re stuck inside during those cold winter months with nothing else to keep us occupied, it can be easy to find ourselves scrolling those email discount offers or perusing through a favorite online store to lift your spirits and bam, you’ve over-spent.
Overindulging can happen quickly, and even little expenses add up. Too many coffee shop visits, another nude lipstick added to your collection, another tool for your toolset, or mindless shopping may elevate your mood briefly but it can leave you worse off in the long-run.
Developing healthier habits when we’re in a depressive state can help us avoid any long-lasting bad side effects. Here are some recommended tips to manage your SAD.
SLEEP ON IT
When the weather is warm, and you are enjoying hot summer nights, it’s easy to ignore special offer emails and social media sponsored ads. However, when you are stuck inside snuggled up on the couch sipping hot tea and scrolling through your phone it can be more tempting to cash in on those offers. A great way to avoid making that impulse spend is to add it to the cart and then sleep on it. Most of the time when you wake up the next day you will either have forgotten about your cart or no longer have the urge to follow through on the purchase.
START A GRATITUDE PRACTICE
Writing down what you are grateful for in a journal or typing these thoughts in the notes section on your phone as part of your morning routine or before you go to sleep at night, can be a great way to remind yourself of the abundance you have in your life. When you are sad or depressed it is easy to focus on everything that is going wrong and focus on what you are lacking. When we lose sight of our goals and aspirations for the future it is easier to try and fill our lives with things we don’t need or want.
PLAN SOMETHING FUN FOR THE FUTURE
When the freezing weather and dreary days seem to have no end in sight it can be lifesaving to have something to look forward to. Maybe planning a dinner party or mini getaway can help lift your spirits and give you something positive to focus on. The temptation to haphazardly spend can be less enticing when you are saving for plans on the horizon – helping you make a less expensive choice.
Self-care can be anything from a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day to eating healthy foods or going on a long run, so your body has the fuel it needs. There are many ways to take care of yourself that can assist you in making smarter money choices, especially when the winter months have you down. Investing in your mental, physical, and spiritual health can save you money down the road. When you feel good, you tend to make better choices. Maybe reigniting an old hobby or passion can help you occupy your winter days and enrich your soul. If you are looking for ideas on where to start, bust out those family board games from the closet, pick up that book you haven’t finished, or even dust off that guitar you used to love to play.
Sticking to your budget can be difficult. Incorporating some healthy habits and strategies during the less than thrilling months of the year can save you from making financial mistakes you’ll later regret. No one is perfect and sometimes we spend more than we should but – the important thing to remember is to get back on track and not let any little missteps derail your overall financial plan.