As the long winter months approach and the days become shorter, moods start to decline as fast as the temperature outside. As discussed in our article; “Why it can be harmful to stay indoors during winter”, the combination of lack of sunlight, reduced outings, and the overall unpleasantness of the cold weather are big contributors to the onset of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), better known as the winter blues or winter depression. Here are some tips that will keep the winter blues away this winter:
Go Outside And Get Some Sun
It has been shown time and time again that a lack of sunlight is one of the largest contributors to the onset of winter depression, especially for those that reside in the Northern Hemisphere where the days are shortened during the wintertime. Most people find themselves commuting to and from work in the dark and spending all day indoors with little to no sun exposure, which may mean a reduced release of the mood enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin.
Being cooped up indoors can be isolating and not socially or mentally stimulating, so try to get sunlight whenever you can. Open up the curtains, sit by the windows, take your dog for a walk or get a coffee with a friend in order to get as much sunlight as possible This will counteract the effects of winter blues caused by reduced sunlight exposure.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
In wintertime, when the weather is nasty and -25C outside most people tend to cringe at the thought of going outdoors. Instead, they go into a hermetic mode and become guilty about spending lots of time indoors on the couch watching TV rather than going out for a walk or taking a run on the treadmill. Exercise is the key in preventing yourself from succumbing to the winter hermetic lifestyle.
Exercise is not all about maintaining your weight as it’s also very important for your general health. When we exercise, there are endorphins released which make us feel happy and becomes the perfect way to fight off those winter blues. Not to mention, the increased blood flow, decreased blood pressure, elevated metabolism and increased weight loss. The question is, why wouldn’t you want to exercise this winter when there are so many benefits? It could be as simple as bundling up and going out for a short walk, joining a gym or taking up a new hobby like skating or skiing.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
In wintertime, many people, myself included, sometimes tend to indulge a little extra in those foods that aren’t the best for us like holiday treats and so called “comfort foods”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly fine to indulge every once in awhile. However, it’s not okay to choose to snack on holiday goodies every time they’re brought out. Instead, mix in fruits and vegetables. People also tend to take the easy way out and opt for fast food over a balanced home-cooked meal as the winter blues make you feel like not cooking. Not only is it bad for your physical health causing weight gain, but there was a study published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal which linked fast food to depression. It was revealed that “consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression” (Science Daily).
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “you are what you eat”, so if your diet is poor, then you definitely won’t be feeling your best. This winter, try to limit foods that aren’t that great for you like candy and carbs which can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Instead, opt for a balanced diet with lots of complex carbs like broccoli, spinach, yams, etc., and follow the Canada food guide as best as you can to limit the effects that a poor diet can have on the winter blues.
A great way to beat the winter blues is to treat yourself. I’m not sure about you, but I know it makes me happy when I treat myself to something every so often. Unlike rewards in which you have to set goals for and work for, sometimes it’s nice to take a break and just treat yourself.
Embrace The Season
Another important thing you can do is embrace the season. It is inevitable that the winter season will come and that the weather may not be the most pleasant. However, instead of fighting the idea of winter and denying that the cold weather is approaching, just embrace it. Every year I make a list of things that I want to do which are usually nostalgic winter activities and I recruit my friends and family to go and do them with me. The idea of having something to look forward to like winter activities definitely overshadow the misery of the cold, snowy weather and it gives you something to be excited about. Keep your spirit lifted with some seasonal joy.
Stay social instead of hibernating and resorting to that hermetic lifestyle that was talked about earlier in this article. Isolation can result in depression. Instead of staying home watching Netflix, recruit your friends to go out and partake in some fun winter activities with you. Not only does it give you something to anticipate, but it is social stimulating to be around friends and it boosts your mood which can result in a lot of memories and laughs. People that laugh tend to be more relaxed as it shifts their mind to something hopeful and fun. Furthermore, keep in mind that you may not be the only one suffering from the winter blues so calling your family, friends, co-workers, etc. to go out with you may not only be beneficial to you, but to them as well.
Take Vitamin D
During winter we spend less time outdoors which causes a decrease in Vitamin D and is a contributor to winter depression. To overcome the problem of decreased Vitamin D, you can take either take a Vitamin D supplement or you can add more foods fortified with Vitamin D such as; egg yolks, tuna, salmon, orange juice, cheese and liver. However, the easiest way to increase Vitamin D and keep those winter blues away is to get more sunlight by going out as much as possible.
The key to beating the winter blues this winter lies in spending time outdoors. As pleasant as -20C weather may sound, it doesn’t have to be so bad. As long as you make sure that you are prepared and are dressed appropriately to go outside than the cold should not affect you. To make sure that you are prepared to venture outside this winter, please click here https://preorder.northaware.ca