Seasonal depression is common in the winter months.
Q: I've noticed small changes in my teen as the weather has gotten colder. She is sleeping more, not socializing as much, and she seems disinterested with her normal activities. How can I help her get back to her happy self?
A: Because of cold temperatures and cabin fever, it becomes difficult for all of us to find motivation to be active indoors. Seasonal depression is common in the winter months, but recent studies have shown that exercise and engagement in leisure and recreational activities are some of the best preventative treatments to reduce winter depression symptoms.
Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health. Recreational activities should be perceived as a reward for the entire family. If children think of activities as voluntary fun rather than required exercise, they will be more successful.
Whether it happens in the morning before school, in the afternoon right after school or in the early evening after dinner, setting a specific time to engage in something active will be the easiest, as your child will consider it part of the daily routine. Parents can get creative with activities to engage in.
You can start small - 30 minutes a day of activity is ideal, but even 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. Start simple with a game of hide-and-seek, and then build up to something like an hour-long dance marathon in the living room. Resources such as FamilyCorner.com, YouTube and library DVDs offer free and accessible ways to get moving indoors.
-Ashley Tuisku is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital.