If you live in a colder climate, around this time of year, you may notice that the winter weather conditions have taken a toll on your mental wellness.
During cold, dark, and dreary winter months, the lack of sun exposure and the inability to be outdoors for extended periods of time may contribute to feelings of cabin fever and the winter blues.
The winter blues may include but are not limited to: a lack of motivation, low energy and/or moodiness.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to elevate your mood and prevent the winter blues from creeping back.
1. Move your body to increase your heart rate.
Exercise generates in your body feel-good chemicals called endorphins that improve your mood and support a positive sense of well-being. Choose activities that are fun for you. Try a new exercise class, go out dancing or get bundled up and snow shoe, sled or snowboard. When your body feels good, you feel good.
2. Eat a balanced diet.
When your energy is low, your cravings for starches, sugar and caffeine kick into full gear. Eating a balanced diet gives your body the right building blocks to create it’s own natural energy.
3. Get the right amount of sleep for your body.
A lack of sunlight may throw off your circadian rhythms, the daily rhythms of your physiological functions and activities. Getting the right amount of sleep (no more, no less) ensures that you wake up feeling well-rested. When you’re tired, you tend to crave sugar and stimulants like caffeine to keep you going. See a pattern here?
4. Take it easy on the alcohol.
Alcohol not only disrupts healthy sleep cycles; it is also a depressant. If you’re feeling down, alcohol won’t help.
5. Work on your goals and spend time in self-reflection.
Winter is a time for focusing inward. Northern artists and writers especially hunker down this time of year to focus and create the works they’ll sell during the summer months. Utilize this time to journal, reflect and plan.
6. Reach out to family and friends.
Whether it’s a phone call, going out for tea or having dinner together, there is great power in human connection.
If you feel that your winter blues are more than mild, see your doctor. A more severe form of winter blues is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Not everyone experiences the same symptoms of SAD, and for that reason, the symptoms won’t be listed here. SAD is manageable through the various treatments like light therapy, vitamin D supplementation and/or prescription medications.