Winter has been here for several months now, and the prolonged dreary, wet weather can dampen your spirits (pun intended). It’s easy to get into a health and wellness funk when the cold weather naturally makes it harder to function. During this season, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as it’s commonly known - a form of depression also called the winter blues. Symptoms include irritability, sleepiness, laziness, and anti-social tendencies. It can happen to adults and children alike, and will generally subside once Spring rolls around. Here are five ways to help you feel better and beat those blues:
It can be really hard to push yourself to be outdoors when the weather is cold and the only thing you’d rather do is stay in and be warm. However, our bodies respond positively to daylight, sun, and the exposure to nature - its an instant stress reliever and energy booster. Whether it’s taking Fido for a walk first thing in the morning, getting a ten minute walk in after lunch, or even taking a phone call outside while rays are peaking through the clouds, enjoying even a little bit of fresh air and daylight will instantly elevate your mood and make your day brighter.
Eating healthy and getting exercise are important for your well-being throughout the year, but none more so than during the winter! After the holiday season, it’s easy to fall into a rut or routine of eating unhealthy foods, binge-watching your favorite show, and sitting for long periods of time. But that only perpetuates the cycle of depressive feelings that we experience with the winter blues. Get rid of the candy and junk food around the house, and add in more fruits, veggies and whole grains to your diet. Get off the couch and schedule an exercise date with a friend. Or go out and enjoy a winter activity like ice skating or skiing! You’ll feel and function better this season.
You might think that winter is the perfect time to stay indoors and hibernate alone. But many studies have shown that social connection is one of the most important factors in overall well-being and mood. Being in the company of those you enjoy and care about will make you happier, feel less isolated, and take your mind off the brutal weather that the winter season brings. Meet friends at a cafe for your morning joe, organize a game night, take your spouse or partner out to dinner and a movie. You will all feel better!
The symptoms of SAD can make it hard to prioritize sleep as a part of your health and wellness routine. You might find that you are struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, or you wake up feeling tired and run down the next morning. You are not alone! The National Institute of Health estimates that up to 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and problems. Be sure to avoid caffeine late in the day, and stop using your phone thirty minutes before bed to allow your brain to shut down. Create a sleep sanctuary for yourself at night - keep your bedroom cool and dark, eliminate bright gadgets, and invest in quality bedding (such as Authenticity 50 sheets!) For more tips on how to get a good night’s sleep read this post.
Getting regular exposure to light helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which in turn helps to elevate your mood. If getting outside to enjoy sun and fresh air isn’t enough to cure your SAD, you might want to invest in a light therapy box to keep at home and at work. You can easily find them online and according to the Mayo Clinic, your mood can improve when you sit near it for thirty minutes per day within the first hour you wake up. Another form of effective natural treatment is to see a therapist or mental health professional. Speaking to one can provide you with the tools and skills to lift a low mood during the winter on your own.
If you have any tips or comments on how you deal with the winter blues, please share them below. We’d love to hear from you!