Now that winter is settling in for the long haul, you may start to feel your mood going in the direction of the temperature outdoors: Down. Even if you don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder, your mood can plummet in winter as holiday bills begin to arrive and weather becomes cold and gray.
Beat back winter blues before they start by taking preventive steps to keep your energy and your mood high. By making simple lifestyle changes and adjustments to your home, you can bring back that spunk you felt last summer, and cruise your way straight on through to spring.
Keep a positive outlook all season long with these simple tips on how to beat back the winter blues...
Let in the Light
One reason that winter blues can begin to creep in is the limited exposure to light we tend to experience in winter months. Do everything you can to brighten up your time indoors by keeping curtains and blinds open during the daylight hours. If you truly struggle with excessive winter blues, it may be worth investing in a light box, or artificial light, and spending 30 minutes a day beside it.
Eat for Energy
When the winter blues strike, you may find yourself reaching for comfort foods packed with refined carbs and simple sugars, but stop yourself before going down that path. The fastest and easiest way to boost your mood any time of year is by fine tuning your diet so that it provides you with maximum nutrition and energy. While dark chocolate can actually improve your mood, most candies and sweets will only provide you with a temporary boost before dragging your right back down. Make sure to eat a varied diet filled with fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy, lean proteins. The better your body feels, the better YOU will feel, all season long.
Move for Your Mood
When you start to feel sluggish, get up and move. Exercise is scientifically proven to improve symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Even 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week will go a long way to help you boost your mood and your connection to your body, giving you increased energy and the added bonus of feeling stronger and healthier.
Play More Music
Turn up the upbeat tunes in your car, at home and on your daily walk, and watch your mood begin to shift, almost instantly. Listening to cheerful, positive and upbeat music is a proven method for improving your mood both in the short and long term. Pack your music library with music that inspires you and excites you, and plan to listen for approximately 30 minutes a day for immediate mood improvement.
Plan a Getaway
Sometimes, being in the present moment is not the best way to calm anxiety or winter blues. Just the thought of an upcoming vacation can help you to feel inspired and motivated to get through the winter months. Begin planning your spring or summer vacation, book plane tickets or just start doing research and taking notes on places you wish to visit. You'll notice that having something to look forward to will help keep you grounded and feeling hopeful.
Help those in need in your community this winter, and put your energy into giving back. Somehow, the simple act of giving of our time for the benefit of others increases our own sense of purpose and well-being, boosting mood in both the short and long term. Feeling needed can truly go a long way, and local organizations in need will be grateful for the gift of your time and energy.
When in doubt, head outdoors for an actual dose of Vitamin D. Lack of sunlight really can wreak havoc on our bodies and our moods. Try to sneak in just a few minutes a day, and you may notice an immediate improvement in how you feel, overall. Vitamin D helps to boost your immune system, and helps to bring your mood up with it. Don't stay inside all winter, and instead, bundle up and head out for fresh air and the winter sun on your skin.
The tendency to curl up with a good glass of wine each night in winter can be strong, but remember alcohol's effects on the brain and your mood and exercise moderation. Alcohol is a depressant, and also packs in sugar and calories that can add weight and affect your sleep cycle. Watch your alcohol consumption through winter months with care, and whenever possible, choose warm tea or sparkling water instead.
Get Your Zzzzs
When you aren't rested, you won't feel energetic and ready to take on the day. Lack of sleep can directly affect your mood, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety. Make sure to create a peaceful and relaxing bedtime routine that allows you to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, and schedule your sleep so that you get an appropriate amount of sleep every night of the week. You'll find yourself feeling more energized and ready to make positive choices when you're well-rested and at your best.
Don't hibernate all winter and shy away from the people who know and love you. Even if you do like to take time for quiet in winter months, make sure to schedule social activities that get you out and around the ones you love. Spending time in the company of our loved ones improves mood in both the short and long term, and helps to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Invite friends over for dinner or start a weekly walk with exercise buddies, and make sure to get your much needed social time in throughout the winter months.