How to Fight the Winter Blues This Season
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. Symptoms usually start in the fall and continue into the winter months, leaving you feeling less energized and not like yourself. The specific cause of SAD is unknown but some disruption in your body’s internal clock and a decrease in your serotonin and melatonin levels may be factors.
If you start to feel the winter blues setting in, there’s a couple ways to help you improve your mood and stay motivated. Just follow these tips to feel healthier and happier all winter long:
Exercise. Exercise helps relieve stress, improve your mood and increase your energy. Physical activity releases endorphins, which help increase feelings of well-being and improve your energy level. For maximum benefits, try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Any type of exercise is welcome, including low-impact aerobic activities such as walking and dancing, or even tai chi and yoga. If you’re new to exercise, check with your doctor first.
Eat healthy. A well-rounded diet including fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy can help boost your energy. Lean proteins carry amino acids and omega-3s that are a great source of energy and can help you beat fatigue. Research has shown that leafy greens help the body produce serotonin, a chemical whose levels sometimes decrease when SAD is present.
Get some sun. The reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock, so it’s important to soak up the sun to improve your mood! So if the sun peeks its head out from behind the clouds, take advantage and spend some time outside. But if the days are mostly grey, you can try light therapy. This technique uses a light box to mimic natural outdoor light and help your brain create more feel-good chemicals (such as serotonin) to improve your mood. Always check with your doctor before starting a new therapy routine.
Catch some Zzs. To keep your energy and mood up, make sure to get around eight hours of sleep per night. The change in season can disrupt your sleep patterns and mood. Create a relaxing routine before bed to unwind from the day and help you sleep better. You might take a warm bath or shower, listen to soothing music or use essential oils before bed.
Stay social. Sometimes when we start to feel down, we want to be by ourselves. However, it’s important to take time to enjoy social activities with family and friends. They can help boost your mood, offer support and reduce your feelings of isolation. Grab coffee with an old friend, join a new club or workout class, or volunteer at a local organization. Helping others is one of the best ways to expand your social network, meet new people and gain inspiration to make positive changes from those around you.
More than just the winter blues?
If you’re finding it hard to boost your mood, it may help to make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will provide professional advice on how to start feeling more like yourself.
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*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.