Winter isn’t exactly the most popular season. It’s cold and often gloomy, and many people find that they aren’t their usual self during this time of year. Particularly after the holidays have passed, it might seem like the only thing you have to look forward to is the spring. But that doesn’t make the winter pass any faster. If you find yourself feeling down this time of year, you aren’t alone. An estimated 10 million Americans are in the same boat with you. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to combat the winter blues for a happier start to the new year.
Vitamin D. Sunlight is essential to your overall mind and body health. Unfortunately, in the winter time, sunlight can be hard to come by. However, there are other sources of vitamin D, such as supplements and foods rich with vitamin D. Fatty fish, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and eggs are all great sources of vitamin D. When the weather permits, be sure to try to get outside when you can. Even a little bit of sunlight can help your mood greatly.
Exercise. The last thing you want to do when it’s less than 40 degrees outside is exercise. But exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Now is the time to make use of that gym membership you may or may not be taking advantage of this time of year. Start slow and just do what you can. You don’t have to go every day, even once or twice a week will give you results. You will find that you have more energy and a healthier outlook on life when you exercise regularly. If you can’t afford a gym, turn your home into your gym. There are plenty of exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home with little to no equipment.
Light Therapy. Even without going outside, there are ways to get sunlight. Positioning yourself near windows while working will help to give your body the boost of vitamin D it needs and regulate your circadian rhythm so that you sleep well. You can also purchase sun lamps that stimulate natural light to help your body cope with the effects of dark winter days. These lamps are great for the home and office, and can help give your mood the boost it needs when used on a regular basis.
Eat Right. It’s hard to eat healthy when you’re surrounded by cookies, cakes, and rich comfort foods of the holidays. There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little during the holidays, but be sure to watch your overall diet to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Foods rich in vitamin D (see above), as well as complex carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and vegetables should always be present in your diet.
Stay Busy. One thing that contributes to the seasonal slump is being idle. For many people, the hobbies they enjoy center around sunny weather. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still do things you enjoy. Now is the perfect time to find a new hobby or start a project around the house. Keeping your mind and body occupied will increase your mood, plus you’ll experience the joy of completing something creative from start to finish.
Rest & Relaxation. It’s okay to relax more in the winter. It’s cold, you’re tired, and there’s no shame in slowing down a little. As long as you’re staying on top of your daily duties, feel free to get some rest once they are done and enjoy the season and what it does have to offer. The quiet hush after snowfall, hot drinks and firelight - there’s always some joy to be found in the wintertime.
If you try all of these things and find that you’re still struggling, particularly enough that it starts to affect your daily life, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may be dealing with more than your average wintertime blues. Seasonal affective disorder and depression tend to flare up this time of year, and the symptoms can be hard to manage on your own. Remember there is help out there, all you have to do is ask. You are not alone.