From feeling down after the excitement of the holidays to more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder, most of us feel the winter blues from time to time. We don’t have our usual energy or drive, we don’t feel sick, but we don’t feel great either…we feel, well, Blah! This can lead to sleeping more and turning to carb-laden comfort foods.
Normally, as the days begin to get longer and sunlight reappears, these feelings subside. But as we are still a long way from the warm glow of summer sun, there are some things we can do about getting out of the winter funk. Here are 10 Tips to help get you back on track.
1. TAKE A SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Can’t get your normal daily dose of sunshine, then take Vitamin D. In studies, taking 2,000IU’s of Vitamin D every day helped people with SAD. They saw improvements in their mood.
Get off the couch, get off the computer, get together with real people! After the social whirl of the holidays you may want some quiet time, but not too much. Being isolated can make you feel lonely and depressed. It may seem like a huge effort to get together with people, but do it, it will be good for you. If all your friends are busy then do something different for yourself. There’s always plenty of organizations that could use your help, or classes you can take. The more you withdraw, the worse you will feel.
3. SET SOME GOALS
New year resolutions are even more depressing when you break them, so set some achievable goals instead. Healthy behaviors lead to healthy emotions, some simple health-related goals will do you the world of good. Think about exercising (you don’t have to join a gym, crank up some disco music and dance till you drop!), run up and down stairs a few times, stop smoking and cut back on alcohol intake. Whatever you do, keep track of it and give yourself a round of applause when you achieve your goal.
4. MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT!
There’s a reason why doctors tell you to exercise—it can boost your feelings of well-being, help you stay positive, and even boost your drained energy back up by upping your brains feel-good chemicals. Yes it’s cold outside, but once you have bundled up there are some fun things to do. Even a walk around the block will clear the cobwebs, and you never know you might enjoy a snowball fight, sledding or ice skating. If not, you can walk to the rink, treat yourself a hot chocolate and watch the others. At least you will be outside in some fresh air and hopefully a little bit of sunshine!
5. SLEEP TIGHT
Even though you feel lethargic and sleepy, you may not be getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. A melatonin supplement may help. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle, which can be thrown off by the shorter winter days. People often take it to get over jet lag. Everyone has a different optimal time to take melatonin so discuss it with your health professional to find out when it’s best for you.
6. LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
Talk a walk in the sunlight whenever you can, morning light exposure is especially effective. But, if that’s not enough a light box that simulates sunlight can help regulate the brain chemicals that affect your mood. Even a half an hour a day can help. Many patients with SAD find a light box to be 70 percent effective.
7. TRY AROMATHERAPY
Our sense of smell can trigger all kinds of positive and negative emotions. Even if you don’t believe it will do anything for you, aromatherapy oils just smell good. Whether you put them in a diffuser to permeate your room of use a few drops in a relaxing bath, the lovely aromas of lavender, bergamot, jasmine or neroli will certainly make your home smell delicious and may lift your spirits too.
8. TREAT YOURSELF
A little indulgence will go a long way. Just don’t overdo it. If one of your goals was to lose weight you don’t want to blow it, but there’s not much a little chocolate wont fix. So, think dark chocolate—70% cocoa or more will help boost dopamine levels in your brain.
9. SOME ALTERATIVE THERAPY
A spa day could be just you thing you need to get rid of those winter blahs! Massages have been shown to lower depression by over 50 percent, by reducing stress hormones and the increasing depression-fighting chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.
Acupuncture has also been used very successfully to help overcome anxiety and depression as it helps put your body back in balance.
10. LAUGHTER COULD BE THE BEST MEDICINE
There’s nothing like a good laugh to make you feel better. Find a ridiculously funny movie to watch, check out a local comedy club or call a friend who always makes you laugh. Remember the famous saying, “Laugh and the world laugh’s with you…cry and you cry alone.” Better to laugh any day of the week!
And remember, Winter is just one season, Spring and Summer are just around the corner.