Are you one of those folks that can’t wait for winter to be over? Do you feel a bit down during the cold weather months? You are not alone. But I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Today I am sharing 6 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues.
We are deep into winter now. The days are super short. The nights are dark and cold. And many of us are suffering from lack of energy, mild depression, and low energy. Does this sound like you?
Whether you get a mild case of winter blues or a more serious clinical winter-onset depression (known as seasonal affective disorder), it’s not just the cold, snow, or gloomy skies that bring you down. There is an actual physiological reason for why we get the blues in the winter time.
Our bodies are designed to rise with the sun and to turn in at nightfall. The decrease in daylight hours in winter time throws out internal circadian rhythms off. People in northern latitudes, where there are fewer hours of daylight, suffer more than those in southern latitudes. Women appear to be affected more frequently than men.
What causes the winter blues?
Our internal rhythm is mostly regulated by the release of a melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. When the nights are long, the brain produces and releases more melatonin. This is at the expense of seratonin, one of our feel good, mood enhancing hormones. This decreased seratonin production during the darker winter months contributes to the mild depression that folks may experience.
But all is not lost. There are a few simple things that we can all do to beat the winter blues. Here is my list of 6 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues:
1. Give yourself a break.
Everything in nature has a rhythm. There is a time to go. And there is a time to stop. There is a time to work. And there is a time to rest. Look to nature to show us what we should be doing. Winter is a time to rest and rejuvenate. A time to hibernate and slow down. Let the darker days draw you inward, to recharge and sleep. The spring will come soon enough and the cycle of movement and work will start again.
Get out and move your body. You will feel better. Regular moderate exercise boosts your mood, lowers your blood pressure, stabilizes blood sugars, builds self-confidence, and can help with weight loss. Exercise also increases the energizing neurotransmitter dopamine. This doesn’t have to be some power workout every day. Turn on some music and boogie for 20 minutes. Trust me, it feels good!
3. Nourish yourself.
Winter is the time to deeply nourish your body. Fill the menu with warm, nutrient dense soups and stews. According to Ayurveda, like increases like. So eating cold, raw foods will increase the cold in your body. Eating warm, cooked foods with keep you feeling warm and cozy. Our two family favorites are Greens and Yam Soup and Easy Pumpkin Soup.
Be sure to get lots of good quality protein and fats. Choose pasture-raised meats, poultry, and eggs as they are more nutritious and support the shift to a more sustainable way of eating. I am a big fan of grass fed butter and ghee, as well as good quality coconut oil.
And don’t forget about your Omega-3’s. Research suggests that Omega-3’s have a positive affect on mood and are useful in treating depression. Some suggest that Omega-3’s make it easier for seratonin to pass through cell membranes. Wild fish has traditionally been a good source of Omega-3’s. The current ocean contamination makes this a riskier choice. Grass fed meats and pastured eggs are excellent sources of of Omega-3’s in the winter. Other sources are chia seeds, spinach, winter squash, and walnuts.
Don’t forget to give your immune system a boost. Feeling well and avoiding cold and flu season will help you to feel more positive and upbeat. My favorite supplements for winter time are cod liver oil, elderberry syrup, Fire Cider, and Vitamin D. Read more HERE on how to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.
And don’t forget that caffeine decreases serotonin levels even more. Try switching to herbal teas and caffeine free hot beverages to keep you warm.
4. Get out into the sunshine.
Even if it’s cold outside, be sure to take advantage of any sunshine that you can. Studies indicate that sunlight may help increase the production of serotonin. Sunlight also helps increase the Vitamin D concentration in the body, which is crucial for a healthy immune system.
Read more HERE about the importance of Vitamin D.
In more severe cases of seasonal depression, people are prescribed light boxes , which simulates the sun’s natural rays, emitting 2,500 to 10,000 lux (a normal light fixture emits 250 to 500 lux). They work by reducing the release of melatonin in the brain.
5. Make connections.
Reach out to people in your life and stay connected. Invite a friend over for tea. Spend time with friends and family. Host a holiday party. Getting into the holiday spirit and staying connected to the ones you love will help you to feel happier, more positive, and less blue!
6. Stay positive.
Have a positive attitude about the winter time. Accept that it’s cold, it’s dark, and that’s just how it is right now. Your attitude towards things can make a world of difference. Start family traditions. Take up winter sports. Make a point of doing something kind and generous for someone less fortunate than yourself. Even if you are not religious, hang holiday lights and celebrate the season with candles, holiday foods, and festivities.
And don’t worry, spring is just around the corner. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. Wouldn’t you agree?
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I’d love to hear if you have other suggestions in the comments.
photo credit: depositphotos.com / johan-jk and nejron
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