9 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues
Do you ever experience those down and out feelings that come as winter approaches? Temperatures drop to freezing, skies are gray for days, and it feels like it’s dark before dinnertime even rolls around.
If you do, you aren’t alone! Many of us experience those blah and bluesy feelings that come with a change in seasons. But that doesn’t mean you just have to live with them! Here are 9 tips for beating the winter blues.
1. Get outside
Yes, it can be hard to put forth the effort to brave the cold, but research has shown that even short walks outside can improve your mood. So, layer up, bundle up, and warm up with a walk, jog, or hike outside. Need incentive? Grab your headphones and cue up a podcast or walk to your favorite coffee shop for something warm to keep you going.
2. Light therapy
Since limited sun exposure is often cited as a cause for the winter blues, exposing yourself to artificial light can help combat its effects. This practice is referred to as light therapy and involves daily exposure to bright artificial light from a light box which produces a light much brighter than standard household bulbs. It is typically recommended to use a light box daily for at least 20 minutes, ideally in the morning.
3. Fill your calendar
When the winter blues hit, it can be tempting to just curl up inside for a little winter hibernation. While this can certainly be comforting, try to keep things to look forward to on the calendar. Schedule lunch with a friend, a movie night at home, or a few outdoor walks on days that look a bit sunnier. Having some scheduled plans, even if just for yourself, can help keep you moving and stimulated through the otherwise long weeks of winter.
4. Supplement strategically
Yes of course nutrition matters! Certain nutrients have been shown to help support mood and may help beat the winter blues:
- Vitamin D: Higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved mood, but vitamin D is tough to get in the winter due to limited sunlight. Try our algae-derived D3 + K2 ComplexTM for a boost to both your immunity and mood – both key during the winter months!
- Omega 3s: Omega 3 fatty acids are well known for their brain-boosting benefits, so it may not surprise you that they have been shown to support mood too. Find them in fatty fish like salmon, or consider a supplement derived from algae if fish is off the table.
- B complex: Many of B vitamin family have been associated with improved mood and energy. B vitamins are abundant in meat, poultry, and eggs. However, a supplement like our Super B ComplexTM can help ensure that levels stay high, since B vitamins are water soluble and must be consumed daily.
5. Work up a sweat
It has been well established that a regular exercise routine can improve mental health and mood. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association recommends it for this reason! Exercise triggers the body to release the mood-boosting hormones serotonin and dopamine. It also increases energy and creates feelings of accomplishment, and it’s good for your physical health too!
6. Avoid or limit alcohol and sugar
When you’re feeling down, sugar can be a tempting treat. After all, it has an appealing taste that excites the brain and provides energy in the short term. But that’s the problem, these effects are short lived and often followed by a crash as dramatic as the spike. Plus, excess sugar leads to several other complications in the body, like inflammation and tooth decay.
Alcohol is another substance that can be tempting for some during the dark winter months. While sugar is a stimulant, alcohol is a depressant. This means it will have the opposite effect of helping you to beat the winter blues. Of course, it affects your health in other negative ways, so it’s wise limit your consumption no matter what time of year it is!
7. Incorporate mindfulness
It can be hard to look inward and be present when feeling down but incorporating a mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress and find gratitude in your daily life. Try meditation, yoga (movement doubles up on our tips to beat the winter blues!), or a gratitude journal.
8. Love your gut
Have you ever heard that the gut is the second brain? It’s true that the gut has its own central nervous system and can communicate with the brain. And the gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria in the gut) can influence a wide range of behavior. It’s pretty fascinating and researchers are just scratching the surface of how it all works.
What we do know is that gut health influences brain health, so give your gut some love with fermented foods or a good probiotic supplement. And keep those bacteria fed with good prebiotic foods. We’ve got a whole list of those here!
If you’ve ever been sleep deprived (who hasn’t?!), it probably comes as no surprise that sleep quality is strongly associated with improved mood. Aim for 7-8 hours each night and remember to stay away from blue light (computers, cell phones, etc.) or wear blue light blocking glasses or filters at night to allow your body to wind down naturally. Think of the long hours of darkness as Mother Nature’s way of telling you to get more sleep!
It’s no fun to feel down during the dark months of winter, but hopefully these tips to beat the winter blues can but a pep in your step and give a boost to your mood. And if you didn’t notice, each tip has health benefits that extend beyond mood, so pick a few and enjoy the benefits in all aspects of your wellbeing!