Updated: Jan 14
Feeling like it’s too cold and you just want to hibernate? The days are shorter, the nights are longer and some of you may be experiencing something called Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD). Time change, colder weather, and shorter days can have a negative impact on mood.
Some symptoms of SAD can include lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment in regular activities, changes in sleep or appetite, persistent sadness, and feelings of isolation.
While you cannot control the weather, there are many things within your control to help alleviate some of the seasonal symptoms you may experience.
6 tips to help you beat the winter blues:
Make sure you are getting adequate Vitamin D
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include getting sick often, low energy levels or fatigue, depression and bone pain. Although vitamin D is found in some foods it is very difficult to get an adequate amount of this nutrient from diet alone. Our main source of obtaining this vitamin is from the sun, something we don’t see much of this time of year or at all really due to working indoors and wearing sunblock when were not. If you’re not getting adequate sunlight it is recommend you supplement up to 1,000 IU daily.
Exercise might be the first thing to go when you'd rather stay snuggled in bed. Don't let it. Exercise is wildly effective at giving your brain a boost! According to research, just 20 minutes can help improve your mood for up to 12 hours -- talk about an investment that pays off. It releases positive brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. If you're in one of those "I DON'T WANNA" moods, start out with a couple minutes of SOMETHING. Jog in place, go for a walk, get your stretch on -- just start moving
Get some sun.
We now know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D. But did you know that it also improves your mood? Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try spending more time outdoors during the day or keep your shades up to let more light in. Sit near windows in restaurants or while at home or try changing the light bulbs in your house to “full spectrum” bulbs. These mimic natural light and actually have the same effects on your mind as the real thing. Another option is to purchase a happy light or a light therapy light. These are designed to mimic natural sunlight to improve the mood of individuals dealing with seasonal affective disorder.
Research shows that stress reduction from meditation can have all kinds of positive effects, such as reducing blood pressure, relieving anxiety, and offsetting sadness. Beginners can start with a few quiet minutes of deep breathing or there are some great meditation apps out there, like Headspace.
Try it with me real quick breath in for 3 seconds...
Hold for 3 seconds...
Breathe out for 3 seconds...
See how easy and refreshing that was?
Listen to some music
It seems almost too easy, but it's true: A high-energy playlist is one of the quickest ways to get yourself out of a slump. Research shows our brains can be pretty easily manipulated by music. Think about how scary music in a horror flick makes you feel even more scared… energetic tunes work the same way. Pop on some music that will put a smile on your face and jam out.
Eat Foods proven to boost mood
Feeling blue can make you desire foods high in fat, carbohydrates and sugar. While these foods might make you feel better in the moment they can be followed by a blood sugar crash and low energy as a result. Replace those cravings with foods that boost your mood such as a variety of different fruits, vegetable, fermented foods, fatty fish and proteins such as eggs, nuts or turkey. One study found eating more fruits & vegetables boosted overall mental well-being, with the magic number for happiness being 7 cups/day.
Write one thing you are grateful for when you wake up
After waking up, the first thing that many of us do is look at our phones. If you can take 5 minutes before you look at your phone and instead write down one thing you are grateful for, that can make a world of difference in your day. It can be the smallest thing: "I am really looking forward to having an orange with my breakfast" or "I am so glad its not raining today". Even if its something minor, if you think of your mood like a scale, that habit sets you in the "plus" zone for the day.
You should seek help if you are feeling tired more of the time, have less energy, or if you're not getting pleasure in things you normally love. Signs of depression include trouble focusing or concentrating, feeling foggy, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite. If you are feeling any of these things talk to your doctor. I think people often feel like they need to hit a certain threshold before they make that call. If something feels off to you, no matter how little, now's the time to make that call. You don't have to wait until things feel really bad.
Famous Supply associates are offered free counseling services through our EAP. To learn more go to www.myimpactsolution.com the company code is Famous.