Most 4-H clubs begin meeting early in the year while some meet all year round. During the winter months it can be cold and dreary outside. During club meetings, Cloverbuds may be rambunctious, display more behavioral health issues, and not listen as well. You may be feeling more irritable and tired and find it harder to stay upbeat during club meetings. Why does this always seem to always happen during this time of year?
The “winter blues,” also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) affects the mental health and moods of thousands of people. Many parents are affected by the winter blues, which in turn, affects children. Children are very observant and responsive to their environment. They look to adults to know how to respond during times when they aren’t sure how to feel. The younger the child, the more likely they will pick up on the moods of others.
According to Mental Health America National:
- Approximately 5 percent of the United States population experiences seasonal depression each year.
- Four out of five people who have seasonal depression are women.
- The main age of onset of seasonal depression is between 20 and 30 years of age, however symptoms can appear earlier.
Winter blues are most associated with reduced sunlight during the winter months. It is much colder than usual outside making it uncomfortable to get out and about. A lack of sunlight and exercise can seriously affect a person’s mood.
The good news is that Cloverbueds are incredibly resilient. To help beat the winter blues begin by finding little ways to expose you and your Cloverbuds to light and exercise. Go outside in small bursts. Open the blinds! You might surprise yourself by how much better you feel brightening a room with extra lamps or by finding out that being outside isn’t as bad as you think. Sensory walks (looking, smelling, hearing, feeling) with your Cloverbuds are an excellent way to do a quick burst of outdoor time. Also, don’t underestimate the power of laughter!
Other ideas to make your own sunshine and boost your mood:
- Open the blinds to get direct sunlight in your meeting space or turn on extra lights during Cloverbud events.
- Open the windows to let in some fresh air if you are able.
- Get physical with your activities such as taking a walk or playing with your Cloverbuds at the park. Playing relay games inside at a 4-H meeting is also a great way to involve a large group and get the blood pumping.
- Boost your mood with foods high in Vitamin D. (yogurt, eggs, meats, milk) Host a cereal snack party with your Cloverbuds to see which ones contain the most Vitamin D.
- Listen to a new mood boosting playlist. Freeze dance is a simple, high-energy way to move about.
- Help others by volunteering or simply helping a friend or family member. This goes right along with your 4-H club community service.
- Smiles are contagious! Read a funny story (check Cloverbud Reading Adventures for ideas) to get the smiles and laughter started. (Cloverbud aged children tend to laugh hundreds of times a day, while adults average about 15.)
Be sure to reach out to others for support. This includes, planning, prepping, and carrying out your Cloverbud events. Good moods of others are just as contagious as the winter blues. Keeping your Cloverbuds active and laughing can go a long way to get them, their families, and you in better spirts throughout the long winter months.