Winter blues? Some people find it hard to fathom. Between the excitement of the holidays and the hope of a brand new year, winter is often a favorite time of year. But for many of us, this chilly season sends us into sadness, depression or just a bad case of the blahs. It doesn’t have to be this way! If you’re one of the many people who get the blues while Jack Frost is in town, here are five tips to help keep you feeling happy and warm inside.
1. Lighten Up
When down in the dumps, the last thing you want to hear is “lighten up,” but this time it’s different. During the winter months we are exposed to less sunlight, which affects our circadian rhythms. Our internal body clocks get thrown off, explaining why we often like to sleep more during the winter months. But it’s not just sleep that’s affected—it’s our moods too. Less light affects our brain chemistry and leads to that melancholy feeling. Some people are severely influenced and suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
During the colder months, many of us are low on Vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure. This vitamin is more than just a good nutrient; it acts like a hormone to regulate a variety of functions in the body—including mood.
The best cure? Add light. If you can get more sun exposure during the day—do it. Go outside more often or take a trip to a sunnier locale. Otherwise, invest in either a light box or some full spectrum light bulbs for your home. Literally lightening up can make you feel better.
2. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Winter holidays are notorious for packing on the pounds, but eating a healthy diet can help you avoid the blues. Cut back on the sugary treats and simple carbs. Instead opt for foods containing healthy fats (like salmon and avocados) and complex carbs (whole grains and veggies). Add a glass of red wine now and then for a healthy heart and a more festive mood.
Finally, don’t forge to socialize during the winter, especially after the holidays. Many of us isolate ourselves once the celebrations are over. Make some time for merriment all throughout the winter season.
3. Add Supplements
During the colder months, many of us are low on Vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure. This vitamin is more than just a good nutrient; it acts like a hormone to regulate a variety of functions in the body—including mood. Low levels of Vitamin D have even been associated with cancer. Consider supplementing your diet with D3 or eating more Vitamin D rich foods like salmon, eggs, dairy and mushrooms.
B12 is another supplement that keeps depression at bay. Luckily many of the same foods that are rich in Vitamin D also contain a healthy dose of B12. However, if you choose pill form to boost your levels, be aware that B12 is water-soluble and D is not. Your body will secrete excess B12, but too much D can become toxic. Check with your health care provider for optimum dosages.
4. Follow Your Nose
Aromatherapy is great for combating the winter blues. An invigorating scent can have you feeling happier in no time. You can use essential oils, room sprays, incense or scented candles. With candles, you have the added bonus of gaining some additional light.
The best scents to banish the blues include peppermint, bergamot, jasmine, ylang ylang, lemon or any citrus-based scent.
5. Get Active
Numerous studies indicate that exercise is great for keeping the winter doldrums away. You can always hit the gym, but try getting active by engaging is some winter sports like skiing, ice-skating or snowshoeing. It’s a great change of pace. If you’re stuck inside the house, then pop in an exercise DVD or just dance to your favorite tunes and say goodbye to the winter blues!