5 Surprising Ways To Conquer The Winter Blues
By Jenna Barrington
Winter is just around the corner. I was talking to a good friend the other day who admitted that she suffers every single year from a severe case of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly referred to as the “winter blues.”
I myself tend to struggle more during the winter months. With years of practice and commitment to keeping myself above the water, I’ve come up with a list of reliable techniques that can help you beat the blues and have a great, enjoyable winter.
There may still be days where you feel like your energy is low and you just want to lay around the house all day. You know what… that is completely okay! Maybe your body wants you to slow down a little in the winter and take the time for introspection and meditation.
Don’t hesitate to go against the grain and change your schedule a little during the cold months, allowing for more sleep, more quiet time and more quality time with people who really matter to you.
Tip #1: Take 5000 IU Of Vitamin D3
I don’t take a lot of vitamins or supplements in pill form (I get them from the food I eat), but I make an exception for vitamin D!
You get vitamin D from the sun or from a few select foods like mushrooms, egg yolks and fish. You have to get most of it from the sun, however, because it is nearly impossible to get it strictly from diet.
Numerous studies have shown that most people suffering from SAD also have a vitamin D deficiency. Regardless of the studies, winters of experience have made me realize that supplementing with this vitamin makes a big difference for me. My husband can almost always tell if I’ve forgotten to take it for a few days.
Tip#2: Go Tanning
This may be a bit controversial for some and if you are uncomfortable with it, that is fine! Dr. Mercola talks about the benefits of going to the RIGHT kind of tanning bed and his article may help to calm some of your worries. Read it here.
My husband and I went tanning 3 times a week last winter and LOVED IT. Laying in the warm lights was extremely soothing to me, as the outdoor weather was freezing and gloomy. I used the 10 or so minutes that I laid in the tanning bed to focus on positive affirmations or other meditation techniques and found that it helped my mood levels dramatically.
Tip #3: Get Moving
When you are feeling depressed, it can seem near impossible to go to the gym or do a workout on your living room floor. That is why I highly recommend you getting into a strong habitual routine before the winter even starts. If you have a regular scheduled time that you go to the gym every day, then it will be easier for you to stick to it once you start to feel questionable.
There is no end to the list of the benefits of exercise and movement for people who are prone to depression. Regular exercise:
- Boosts self esteem
- Boosts endorphins
- Reduces stress
- Improves symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Strengthens your heart
- Increases energy
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces body fat
- Increases muscle and strength
- Boosts your immune system
Get a gym buddy. Make a schedule. Do something that is FUN to you. Sign up for a class. Hire a personal trainer. Whatever it takes to make you stick to a regular workout schedule, make it happen! You won’t regret it!
Tip #4: Make Quality Time For Quality People
When you are feeling depressed, it is easy to become isolated and want to spend time alone. Maybe you don’t really want to BE alone, but you also don’t want to “put on a face” or entertain someone else, so you choose to stay home from the party and hang out at home.
Being honest with those who matter to you about your depression can help them understand if you become unreliable or unresponsive. If they are good friends, they will still reach out to you and help you come out of your ruts. Make time for these kinds of people if possible. Plan to spend time with them doing things that are extremely low key and undemanding (movie nights, going for walks, reading a book together, etc).
Spending time with the right people can help you keep perspective and not get lost in your own head.
Tip #5: Focus Your Diet Around Healing, Gut-Optimizing Foods
The health of your GUT is SO important to maintaining a good mood and also staying healthy through the winter! People do not pay enough attention to diet and lifestyle when they are trying to treat SAD!
Please please PLEASE make the health of your gut a TOP PRIORITY this winter and I promise it will dramatically improve how you feel and what you are able to accomplish.
A high percentage of your feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine are made and/or synthesized in the gut. It’s one of the reasons your gut if often referred to as your “second brain.” If it is unhealthy, then it won’t be able to regulate these hormones properly and your moods and overall well being will suffer.
Focus your diet around foods that HEAL and BALANCE the gut. This includes foods that are high in probiotics, micronutrients and medicinal properties.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
The best way you can tell if your gut is healthy? Your POOP! Read more about that here.
You don’t have to feel helpless and alone this winter! With a little prep and planning, you can reduce symptoms and even completely conquer the winter blues. Take the time to take care of yourself. Your body will thank you.
Do you have any other ideas for overcoming SAD? I would love to hear about them!
Jenna Barrington is studying Therapeutic Nutrition and Holistic Medicine and aspires to be a practitioner, teacher and writer. She is passionate about education and helping others take control of their health.
Jenna lives with her husband in Utah and loves writing, cooking, green smoothies, training her dog, Japanese, spending time at the ocean, bungee jumping, walking barefoot in the grass and being with her family.
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