How to Cure the Winter Blues

Whether you are a Cali babe who thought it would be a good idea to trade a swimsuit for hat and gloves when you went to college, a born and raised New Englander, or one of the 10-20 percent of Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dark winter days can leave even the most energetic of people feeling down. With less sunlight, our bodies produce less serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for our mood, social behavior, appetite, sleep, sexual desires, memory and learning, and temperature regulation. There are a few simple things you can do to counteract the science, or lack thereof, going on in your body. Here are some ways you can cure the winter blues.

Make a routine

College schedules can be crazy, with each day varying from the next. You have class, work, activities, and a social life—and making time for it all is difficult. Try to keep a somewhat consistent schedule in order to keep your focus. This will also train your body to value the time you set aside for yourself. Writing everything down and keeping track of all of your plans is a good habit to have, too. 

Make something to look forward to each week

It could be as simple as FaceTiming with your best friend studying abroad, cozying up with hot chocolate and friends, or checking out a new, trendy brunch restaurant. Having something to look forward to helps create positive feelings for your brain. Psychology also says that humans need three positive interactions a week to fulfill their sense of belonging. Doing these things can reduce your winter blues. 

Make your room a safe heaven

Keep your room tidy so you always have a clean space awaiting your arrival. Make up for lack of sunlight by burning candles, plugging in a string of lights, and adding some life to your windowsill with a plant or flower.

Move your body

Shorter days make it that much more difficult to get yourself to the gym. Play around with the times in your day when you can make time for yourself. Don’t worry about how strenuously you perform, but rather on getting your blood flowing and activating endorphins to make you feel good. Not only will your body out-energize the setting sun, but it will begin to crave exercise regularly. 

Watch what you eat

How you fuel your body is important. People with SAD have higher cravings of carbohydrates in the wintertime. However, foods with tryptophan promote the production of serotonin. These foods include nuts, cheese, red meat, chicken, eggs, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and tofu.

Plan an adventure

The best way to get more vitamin D during the winter months is, well, finding the sun. Move that family trip to Florida to winter break instead of the summer. Soaking up the sun will rejuvenate you to get through the rest of the winter. If traveling isn’t realistic, go somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise go to in your spare time. Check out the free museums BU can get you into, take an outing to Chinatown, or how about the theatre district? You don’t have to go far to get a revitalizing, cultural experience in Boston.

Catch up with a friend

It is so easy to not want to leave the warmth of your own bedroom during the winter, but you should try to surround yourself with people you love during your free time. Get together and bake with a small group of friends, or invite someone you haven’t seen in a while to get coffee. Take advantage of being able to foster relationships, laugh with each other, learn something new, and solidify your support system.

Reflect

Whether it’s by keeping a journal or simply taking a moment to think before you get ready for bed, reflect on your past day. Think about what you learned about yourself, about others, what you accomplished that day, and what things made you smile and laugh. Your hard work and how you carry yourself through each day is worth taking note of and being proud of, so take the time to do so.