Winter has varying effects on each of us, but one very common effect is ‘The Winter Blues’.
Winter often means we’re exposed to less sunlight, which can have an impact on our mood. Sunlight is believed to increase release of serotonin in our brain.
Serotonin is a feel-good hormone and we depend on it to improve our mood and feelings of happiness.
The winter season also happens to kick off with celebratory holidays and the delicious foods, beverages, stress and increased expenses that come along with them – none of which does our waistlines any favors. Once we pass the holidays and enter the meat of winter, we feel all of these triggers come together, often leading to the winter blues. It’s not easy to beat the winter blues, but it’s possible.
Here are the some positive changes you can make this year to beat the winter blues!
• Invest in your health – this is two-fold.
• The first is to keep up your physical activity (it’s also a great time to start!). Research shows that taking the time for movement – whether taking a stroll or exercising intensely – can help substantially in keeping your mood elevated.
Don’t quit taking walks (or runs), working out, or any other physical activity you partake in just because it is dark until 8am and dark again at 4pm. In fact, missing out on physical activity can hinder your mood substantially and carving out time for it WILL do the opposite!
• Part two is eating well. Fueling our bodies with healthy, nutrient-dense foods can play a huge part in how we feel. We feel great mentally when we know we’re eating healthfully. But it’s not just mental – when you eat a healthy and balanced diet, you also feel more energized and happy.
When you pair physical movement and healthy eating together, you are quite simply setting yourself up for success on your path to beating the winter blues.
• Get outside! Whether it’s to sweat or just enjoy the fresh air, getting outside is a sure-fire way to keep your head up. If you despise the cold and the mere thought of this makes you grumpy, change your mindset and bundle-up! If you’re dressed for the [frightful] weather, you’ll be more likely to be able to breathe deep and enjoy some fresh, crisp air (even if just for a few minutes).
• Say hello to a new hobby! This is a fabulous time to start a new indoor hobby (or outdoor one if you so desire). Always wanted to learn to bake?An interest in scrapbooking or learning to knit? Wanted to master yoga? Paint or take a drawing class? Winter is a wonderful time to start such hobbies. Learning something new that we enjoy can have a considerable positive impact on your mood.
• Make time to see people you enjoy. Don’t become a hermit because the season makes you feel like becoming one. Instead make an increased effort to surround yourself with people you love (even after the holidays come & go). Spending quality time with others we like to be around does wonders for our moods, especially if we choose people we easily laugh with!
• Brighten your environment! Consider bringing more light into your home or even just switch light bulbs to one that more closely simulates daylight. Another smart way to bring more light into your home is to simply open your curtains and blinds!
• Plan a vacation. Even if it’s as short as a quick weekend trip, taking a vacation to somewhere we’d enjoy (and out of the ordinary day-to-day) can refresh our mood & leave us feeling rejuvenated. Plus, there’s even research that shows simply planning the vacation boosts our mood!
• Consider volunteering or simply helping others in any possible way. The act of extending a helping hand makes us feel warm & toasty from the inside out.
• Get more sleep. Winter, and decreased daylight time, leaves our bodies craving more sleep. Darkness cues our bodies to release more melatonin, the hormone responsible for helping us feel sleepy and fall asleep. Do your best to get the recommend 7-8 hours of sleep per night. It can truly make a difference in how you go about your day-to-day.
Try your best to implement as many of these recommendations as possible this winter and you just might succeed on beating the winter blues!
Connect with WatchFit Expert Maggie Binkley