By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Is curling up under a blanket the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter? Know that you’re not alone. Hibernating feels natural in the months of November to March, but there are ways to overcome the effect reduced sun exposure can have on you.
Longer nights, shorter days, golden-brown leaves on the sidewalks, chilly fresh air in the mornings, and the gorgeous white winter—all you need is a hot beverage by the fireplace to enjoy. Not everyone feels that way, however.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It is directly impacted by the seasons changing—and it’s real!
It is estimated that SAD affects ten million Americans, not counting the ten to twenty percent of people with mild SAD symptoms, and most of them are women between the ages of eighteen and thirty.
In most cases, SAD starts with the beginning of fall and ends by the beginning of spring. Although the leading cause of seasonal affective disorder is unknown, some factors might come into play to identify it—like circadian rhythm and serotonin and melatonin levels.
But there are ways you can combat your negative thoughts and bring a smile to your face.
Having hundreds of lamps in your house is way too much, but having a couple in every corner of your home is a necessary thing if you’re fighting winter blues.
Turn them all on and make sure to buy LED light bulbs—they not only shine brighter, but they save your bills.
LED light bulbs also give a more natural light than regular bulbs.
For some people, having light therapy goes a long way, according to Dr. Rosenthal—and for that, you will need a lightbox.
Lightboxes emit wavelengths of light very much like natural light, and you can find them everywhere. Bigger models are more popular because they shed more light. White light is the one you should go with rather than newer models with a blue light hue.
Having your lightbox turned on for about thirty minutes in the morning should work wonders for your winter blues.
Studies show that light therapy can relieve depression symptoms in as much as seventy percent of patients after just a couple of weeks, if not sooner.
Did you know that socializing with other people can lower your blood pressure, as well as your levels of stress?
You know that feeling of excitement when your friend shoots a message wanting to meet for coffee or lunch? That same feeling can keep you smiling and forget about your negative thoughts.
If you’re feeling extra down, volunteering might also be a great idea to get your happy hormones up while socializing. Never underestimate the power of giving back.
Having an established daily exercise routine is a powerful way to overcome winter blues. You can compare it to taking medicine.
Finding a way to stay active during the winter months will not only help you stay fit and healthy but will also boost your endorphin levels.
Having a snack or two is okay, but make sure it’s healthy. Stop buying stacks of candy and biscuits and equip your kitchen and pantry with natural sugar like fruits.
People combating depression often find themselves reaching for that chocolate bar when all they need is a glass of water that will keep them hydrated.
Eating unhealthy food can lead to weight gain, and the burst of energy doesn’t last long anyway. Instead, try making a few easy winter vegetable recipes. You’d be surprised how tasty veggies are when a good combo is made.
Even if it’s a cloudy, rainy day, few things can beat natural light. Pack up and go out. Breathe fresh, icy air, and you will not regret it. Set yourself up for an outside winter workout, because why not?
Being exposed to some natural light is essential, and getting outside is the only way to do that. Even if it’s just a quick walk in the neighborhood, choose to go out.
Vitamin D is necessary for our brains to function correctly, for our bones to stay healthy, and for our emotional health to remain good.
The problem is Vitamin D is hard to find naturally. Being exposed to sunlight is the best way to soak it up, but eating a healthy diet can also be an important factor.
Having a healthy diet plan might sound like a cliche, but it is of the utmost importance for your brain to think sharp and stay strong.
Vitamin D can be found in oily, fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Eggs and cheese also have it. Make sure to incorporate a lot of fruits and veggies into your daily meal plan, and you’ll forget why you were even sad and anxious in the first place.
It might be tempting to stay in bed, especially when you see that it’s still dark outside. Instead, set your alarm clock and try sticking to your morning routine. Meditation or light yoga exercises are a great way to start your day right.
When you establish a routine wake up time and soothing bedtime routine, you permit yourself to be consistent and feel much better after.
There is something so special about watching the fire and listening to the sound of crackling, burning wood. It feels exciting and soothing at the same time.
Warm yourself with a mug of tea or hot chocolate and enjoy the fireplace sounds while snuggled in your armchair wrapped in your favorite blanket.
Feeling stuck in the winter blues? Try out some of these mood-boosting tips today, and feel the awesome results!