For some, winter can be kind of depressing. Bulldoggers who live in cold, snowy climates may feel especially bummed as this season continues. You might call it the winter blues.
But there’s actually a more “official” name for those feelings! You may have heard them described as Seasonal Affective Disorder or seasonal depression.
Per the Mayo Clinic,
“The winter blues are a type of depression triggered by a change in the seasons. If you experience them, you’re not alone! Many people have symptoms like moodiness and low energy in the cold, snowy periods of the year.”
Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s time you pay a little extra attention to your mental health.
Check out these eight tips to help you beat the winter blues.
- Eat well! Maximize good nutrition with plenty of berries, lean proteins, bananas, dark chocolate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Be mindful of your screen time. Resist the urge to spend alllll that extra indoor time in front of your phone or TV. Play games, read books, or hang out with loved ones instead.
- Let the light in. Brighten up your work and home environments as much as possible with natural and artificial light.
- Dream up a vacation. Get a trip on the calendar so you have something to look forward to (all the better if you can get out of the winter gloom with a last-minute weekend away!). A staycation can also give your mood a necessary boost.
- Get outside. Fresh air — even if it’s cold! — will be good for your mental health. Take a walk!
- Just dance! The combination of music and physical movement that comes with a spontaneous dance party has been proven beneficial for mental health.
- Supplement Vitamin D. Take Vitamin D supplements and eat plenty of fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, and other fortified foods to fill in the gaps left by the sunshine.
- Make time for exercise. Fitness is good for your mental health, no matter the season.
You can totally conquer the winter blues with this handy how-to guide!
1) Practice good nutrition.
Being mindful about what you eat is a key part of your wellness routine regardless of the season… and a well-rounded diet can look different at different times and for different people. Sometimes, even chocolate can be a healthy addition to your diet!
But let’s focus on what to do nutrition-wise when you’re feeling blue in the winter, shall we?
According to Healthline,
“There are a few dietary elements that you want to pay extra attention to if you experience seasonal depression. Focus on berries, lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids (flax seeds, walnuts, salmon), bananas, and dark chocolate. A healthy combination of these foods will give you the nutrients necessary to maintain your good mood and high energy.”
Healthline also recommends keeping your sugar intake on the low side if you’re feeling low in the winter. The inevitable sugar crash will only make you feel crummier emotionally, so practice moderation with sweet treats!
2) Chill on the screen time.
We know, we knowwwww — at this point, you’re probably sick of us (and everyone else) telling you about all of the reasons to step away from your devices.
Trust us, though, because it’s for your own good… especially if you’re dealing with a case of the winter blues!
When conditions outside of your cozy happy place are cold, snowy, or generally icky, you’re probably more tempted than ever to hunker down and spend even more time than usual scrolling through your phone and watching Netflix. Who could blame you? It’s cold outside!
While you may dread the winter wonderland waiting for you outdoors, it’s been well-documented that screens aren’t doing anything for our mental health.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania, for one, identified a link between social media use and low mood or depression. You can minimize seasonal-specific depression by keeping your relationship with screens and social media as healthy as possible this winter.
Instead of defaulting to your devices, plan a game night, grab a book, or try making some new recipes in the kitchen.
3) Find your light.
Maybe we’re just stating the obvious, but if it’s the gray, low light of winter bringing you down, it may not hurt to lighten things up in your space! Brightening your environment at home and in the office could help you feel better.
Cut back any tree branches that block the sun coming through your window, open the curtains or blinds, and sit as close as possible to light and windows whenever you can.
Experts at Harvard Health explain:
For people with seasonal depression, cozying up near an artificial light can be just as effective as medication for regulating mood.
4) Plan a vacation… or staycation.
Stop waiting for the light at the end of the long winter tunnel to just magically show up. Make it yourself!
Get comfortable and start investigating deals for last-minute sunny weekend getaways. Maybe you can get a break in the winter madness before spring rolls around!
If a winter trip seems unrealistic, getting started on the plan for a spring or summer road trip or vacation could give you the boost you need. Why not tick some places off your travel bucket list? There’s no time like the present… especially if you’re craving something to look forward to in the winter slump.
If your budget is tight or your calendar is already overwhelming, a staycation can be effective for beating the winter blues, too.
Invite your other anti-winter pals over for a weekend of watching movies, playing games, and quality time.
5) Get fresh air.
Assuming you hate winter weather, this might be the last thing you feel like doing — but hear us out!
According to Harvard Health:
“One of the many benefits of spending time outside is that it can improve your mood.”
Even if there’s very little natural light available in the winter, small amounts of it can be a big mood-booster. The physical activity that often comes with going outside has also been proven to cheer people up and make them feel relaxed.
While you might not be especially excited to bundle up and get fresh air in the middle of winter, a brisk walk on a cold day could be just the thing to take the edge off your winter blues.
Those first few seconds in the chilly temps may not be so fun, but we’re willing to bet you’ll be glad you did it.
6) Throw a dance party for one (or more!).
We’ll take a dance party any way and any time we can get one, but there’s actual proof that dancing and music can fight seasonal depression. Let’s crank up the music and fight those winter blues!
According to Psych Central,
“Dance classes integrate music and exercise into a sort of moving meditation, which is helpful for mood and anxiety.”
Dance classes are often recommended as a treatment for SAD!
We don’t think you need to take a formal dance class to reap those benefits. It’s all about listening to your favorite songs and getting your body moving. Grab a friend or do a solo dance party — either way, it will lift your chilly spirits.
7) Get some extra Vitamin D in your life.
This might not sound as exciting as a dance party, but that doesn’t make it any less important. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, right?
Vitamin D is widely known to be linked to the sun, and a 2014 study confirms that Vitamin D deficiency is a primary cause of SAD.
Since you’re likely getting less Vitamin D in the winter than you are at other times of year (you gotta miss that sunshine!), you need to supplement your intake to minimize seasonal depression.
You can get more Vitamin D in your life by eating cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. Milk, orange juice, and cereal are often fortified with additional Vitamin D, too.
When in doubt, Vitamin D supplements are always an option.
8) Move your body!
Whether it’s an awesome arm workout, a round of intense core exercises, an hour of yoga with resistance bands, or even a walk around your neighborhood, physical movement is a great way to beat the winter blues.
Time and time again, fitness has proven beneficial for mental health, so it’s no surprise to us that it can ease seasonal depression.
Research from the Summit Medical Group says,
“Many people can manage their SAD with regular half-hour or hour-long workouts.”
Moving your body is also a great way to practice self-love all year round, which will only further fight your winter blues.
If all else fails, picture yourself on a warm beach! Winter won’t last forever.
*Please consult with a mental health professional if you’re dealing with persistent anxiety or depression.
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