Five Ways to Fight Winter Blues

To follow up on fellow writer, Kate Travis's article from December, here are some more tips to help combat seasonal affective disorder!

Winter is the longest season in Wisconsin. It can start as early as October and still give us snow as late as May. The long, dark nights and bitter cold days are enough to put anyone in a slump. For some, a condition called Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) is a hardship that happens during the winter season. SAD affects over 25 million people according to the Mayo Clinic, meaning you are not the only one who experiences changes in energy levels and mood swings once winter sets in. Here are five tips that can help combat winter blues.

Get Some Sunlight

No matter how cold it is, even on those -20 degree days, step outside and get some sunlight. You may not feel the warmth (who can with the wind blowing pin and needles in your face) but the beneficial Vitamin D sunlight has still reaches the skin. Vitamin D helps boosts serotonin in your body, chemically making the body feel happier. If you can’t bear leaving your nest of blankets, at least move them to a sunny patch where you still feel the sunlight. Every bit of those sunny rays helps, so soak up them up.

Exercise

It is well known exercising boosts serotonin levels and raises your energy. Getting at least twenty minutes of exercise a day will help improve your mood and help ease winter blues. Dragging yourself to the gym for a cardio session or to yoga class gives you an advantage for becoming a happier and healthier self. A bonus from exercising is that you don’t have to fear the end of sweater season because you've been working on your fitness all winter.

Choose Healthy Foods

Oatmeal, turkey, bananas, blueberries, lots of raw vegetables, whole grains, and egg whites are all mood boosting foods that can help you stay energized throughout the day. Having protein three times a day helps keep you feeling full and stabilizes your serotonin levels as well. Eating too much processed sugars raises your insulin levels then crashes your body from the sugar overload, leaving you feeling more exhausted and burnt out. Healthy eating is important all year round, but it can be especially influential on how you feel during these months that have you depressed.  

Plan Something to Look Forward to

Even if you can’t afford to get a break from winter (those lucky few counting down the days to spring break with desperate anticipation) you can still plan small events to look forward to each month. Have a movie night with your friends at the end of the week, plan a shopping excursion to the Mall of America, a weekend out of town somewhere are all ideas that can keep you from slumping into winter doldrums. As long as you get excited for it, plan it out!

Do Something That Makes You Happy

Wear your favorite color, listen to a new playlist, look up sunny vacation destinations on Pinterest, hang a motivational mantra on your mirror; pick something that makes you happy during the day and do it. Smiling helps boosts the brain’s activity to move yourself out of the funk that winter gives you. It’s the little things in life that can keep you happy, so don’t ignore them. Make sure to take care of yourself to ensure positive energy each day. 

With the snow starting to melt, it seems the bitter cold and plowing snow are finally coming to an end. Although Mother Nature always seems to keep us in our winter gear longer than we'd like, you don’t have to let her keep you in a down and out mood. These aren’t "cure all’s," but they do help keep the winter blues in check. For more information and tips on SAD, go check out @BeatTheWinter on Twitter or look it up on Mayo Clinic's website.