Top Ways to Put the Winter Blues on Ice
by Tracey Pollack
Gray and gloomy days can make winter tough to weather, especially when your mood seems to follow the forecast. Shorter days and colder temperatures can leave you cooped up indoors for months with little sunlight or outdoor activity. All of this can have a direct effect on your mood and cause you to fall into a funk that makes you sad, sluggish, irritable, tired, craving carbohydrates and without any interest in activities you once enjoyed. While most people only feel slightly sad during the winter months, others experience a more serious kind of depression known as seasonal affective disorder, which is fittingly known as SAD. But with these five mood-lifting tips, you’ll be able to give those winter blues the cold shoulder.
- See the Light
You can brighten your mood when you brighten your environment. See, the lack of light during the winter is what causes those darker moods, but surrounding yourself with as much light as possible can lighten up your outlook. So open the curtains and sit close to the windows to get more natural light. To lighten any deeper feelings of depression, consider getting a light box, which mimics natural light and helps save you from the symptoms of SAD.
- Be Proactive About Exercise
When winter weather makes you want to curl up under the covers, get up and get moving instead. Exercise can banish a case of the blues by releasing feel-good chemicals in your brain like endorphins and serotonin, which naturally boost your mood along with your energy. Try heading outdoors for a walk or a run, but if the weather outside is frightful, go to the gym, head to an ice-skating rink or do yoga from the comfort of home.
- Stay Social
To get yourself out of a funk, get out among people and socialize. After the social whirl of the holidays, the winter can start to feel isolating as the calendar clears up. And even if all you want to do is hibernate at home, make yourself get out and get together with others. Spending time with people you enjoy can lift your spirits and ease your stress. Don’t be surprised if that dinner with friends or game night with the neighbors is much more fun than just another lonely night on the couch.
- Treat Yourself to Mood-Boosting Food
When you’re feeling sad and sluggish, don’t be surprised if the cookies start calling your name! It’s tempting to turn to junk food when you’re feeling as low as the temperature, but you’re better off choosing foods that can actually help you feel better. Eating healthy meals and snacks rich in lean protein, whole grains, bright fruits and colorful veggies can put a smile on your face in any kind of weather. Since winter calls for warming meals, remember that hearty can also be healthy with vegetable soups, meaty stews, roasted fruit and whole-grain breads fresh from the oven that will satisfy your craving for comfort.
5. Escape the Blues
If you simply can’t face months of miserable weather, escape to a warm, sunny place for a welcome vacation. Just a few days away can lighten your mood and brighten your outlook. If getting away gets to be difficult, simply planning a vacation can give you something to look forward to and make you happy right away. In fact, research showed that just the anticipation of a getaway made travelers happier than they were on the trip itself!
With these seasonal survival strategies, you’ll be able to stop those winter blues cold.