6 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues
As the days continue to be short and cold, it can often be a struggle to stay motivated and positive during the winter months. With Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affecting 1 in 5 Americans and 18% of Canadians at some stage in their life, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and how to combat them. S.A.D is often categorized by symptoms of fatigue, lack of focus, sadness, anxiety, depression, weight gain, headaches, irritability, social withdrawal and a change in appetite. Symptoms typically occur between October and April, and scientists believe that they are linked to a decrease in exposure to sunlight and ones internal clock, which affects hormones and one’s internal temperature. S.A.D symptoms vary greatly in severity, yet even if they are only mildly affecting you, there are ways to improve your overall feelings of well-being with a few changes. If this winter has got you feeling down, try these 6 ways to beat the winter blues.
EAT MOOD-BOOSTING FOODS
We’ve long been told that what we consume, has a great impact on our mind and bodies, both internally and externally. So when it comes to fighting S.A.D, naturally food can play a big part in it. This winter, try to consume more complex carbohydrates such as, whole wheat breads, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, for a natural boost in energy levels, an increase in concentration, and stabilized blood sugar levels, which will all lead to a happier you. You should also avoid refined and processed foods such as, white bread, white rice and sugar, as they achieve the opposite affect and can cause an altered mood, leading to depression, irritability and a lack of focus. In addition to consuming smarter foods, you can also take supplements to make up for the lack of Vitamin D that you’re missing from the sunlight.
TRY A FUN NEW WORKOUT
With all of the fun new exercises cropping up in 2016, this is possibly the best year to start incorporating exercise into your routine and sticking to it. Studies have proven time and time again, that exercise produces endorphins, which result in a “feel good” affect on your mind, can relive stress and give you more energy. Yet, if you often find yourself getting bored of the same old exercises you’ve always done, why not try something new, fun and challenging? This year give an HIIT kickboxing class a try, which will see you burning a maximum amount of calories while listening to great music and beating a BOB dummy. Or if you’re more into something slower paced, give anti-gravity yoga a shot. Anti-gravity yoga utilizes a lot of the stretches and poses you may be used to, yet it is a more fun way of practicing traditional yoga. The practice incorporates a silk hammock attached to the ceiling that will have you trying all sorts of new tricks and poses, which will leave you feeling like an acrobat.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
A great tune can have a tremendous impact on how you feel, so this year create a playlist of your favourite songs and be sure to play it whenever you need a little boost in your mood. A study conducted in 2013, revealed that listening to upbeat and happy music had the ability to improve the participants moods both in the short term and the long term.
Although going outside in the cold may seem counterintuitive and be the last thing on your to-do list, it will actually make you feel better. This especially rings true when it is sunny outside, as you will be exposed to Vitamin D, which you’re likely not getting enough of during the winter. Studies have also shown that being outdoors can improve your focus and motivation, reduce symptoms of sadness and stress. Be sure to bundle up so you can truly reap the benefits of the outside world. You can also supplement your lack of exposure to natural sunlight by creating a brighter environment indoors. Invest in a light box, which creates artificial light, and sit next to it for just 30 minutes a day and watch your mood improve. Studies have shown that the effects of a light box can be just as strong as anti-depressants.
Book a vacation, a spa day or plan a little shopping trip to give yourself something to look forward to and ultimately produce feelings of excitement as you anticipate it. Studies have also shown that even as much as planning a vacation can significantly increase one’s feelings of happiness.
Although the cold weather may see you wanting to crawl under the covers and hibernate indoors, it is important to make an effort to socialize with family and friends. Interacting with others whether in person or over the phone can be a significant mood-booster and motivator.