Why do some People Get the Winter Blues?
Where you live is an important factor. As the days grow darker and shorter, we lose a powerful cue for our internal clocks: light. The bleak and dim light of winter is not enough to help some people keep their circadian rhythms on track. It can also lower serotonin levels and increase melatonin levels. People that have suffered from other types of mood disorder are at an even greater risk, however, people that do not necessarily consider themselves susceptible to the winter blues may find they are more fatigued or down during the winter months.
How to keep a light disposition even during the dark season?
There is no reason we have to wait for the brighter days of spring to feel better! Here are 9 healthy, simple, & effective lifestyle changes that help in Beating the Winter Blues!
1- Eat a Healthy for YOU Diet- A healthy diet for you will vary from others you know. Good NEWS! That is how it should be!
To help you figure out what this looks like for you, start by writing down two lists. List A: foods that you may enjoy eating, but make you feel sluggish afterwards and List B: foods that give you energy after eating them. Continue to add to these lists as you eat different types of food.
You will start nurturing a healthy relationship to your body and food as well as combat those winter blues!
2- Take Proven Supplements- Finding affective supplements is crucial in maintaining a healthy body. Look for ones that have been scientifically proven. (Here at Kaha Tahi, we are happy to give you information about our favorite supplements).
Some supplements that are known to help with fighting off the winter blues are Vitamin D, Fish oil, Amino acids, St. John’s Wort and of course, a Multi-Vitamin that has Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Magnesium, and for women, Iron. You could also add in Melatonin before bed.
3- Get in Good Physical Movement- Physical Movement, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most important things you can do to stay happy, not just during the cold months, but all year long. According to the Mayo Clinic staff and Mayoclinic.org, “aerobic exercise may ease the gloominess of depression, reduce the tension associated with anxiety and promote relaxation.”
It might not always be pleasant to exercise in inclement weather, but just doing a brisk walk can increase feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. If physical movement is not available outdoors, do it inside. You can do it by a nearby window to get more daylight, which leads us to our next healthy way to beat the winter blues.
4- Use Light Therapy- Using light to help beat the winter blues is one of the most successful treatments and, fortunately, there are several options to help you do this.
Get outside for at least 10 minutes a day. After lunch is a great time. Open your blinds. Sit by a window (preferably where the sun is shining in) if you’re unable to get outside. Use bright lights during the day to emulate the light levels of summer. You can get a lightbox and sit by it for 30 minutes a day, preferably shortly after waking up (not recommended if you have a bi-polar disorder as it can trigger mania). You could also use a dawn simulator. This is basically an alarm clock that works by gently waking you with light rather than sound. It will mimic natural sunrise by starting with a low light that gradually brightens over time.
5- Continue Regular Sleep Habits- In the winter, it can be hard to pull yourself out of the warm bed, but continuing your regular sleep schedule of waking up and going to bed at the same time can help keep your circadian rhythm regulated. Establish a routine wake-up time and a power down hour each evening before bed.
6- Clear the Clutter- Your outer environment impacts your thoughts and mood. Clutter and mail all over your counter contributes to feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. Yet, when the space is clean, it encourages a clear mind and ability to do more. If you’re not feeling motivated to get started, you can set a timer for just 10 minutes with a manageable task to complete. By doing this, you give yourself a sense of accomplishment. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself adding another 10 minutes!
7- Practice Daily Gratitude- Feeling and expressing gratitude daily increases hope, optimism, love, acceptance, satisfaction, and joy. It turns your mental focus to the positive, which is powerful when you might want to focus on worries or negative aspects in your life. According to an article in the National Communication Association (2017), "positivity begets positive results for our well-being."
Start practicing gratitude today by simply saying or writing down one thing you are grateful for. Then continue this action each day.
8- See Some Silly Shows- Have you ever heard that laughter is the best medicine? Well, it’s true! Research has shown that laughter is medicine that can be used to change the mental and physical well-being of people. According to an article in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2010), "mirthful laughter enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL)."
Watch a silly show, laugh, and enjoy yourself!
9- Have Curiosity over Judgement- All too often, people are quick to criticize and judge themselves. Be curious about your choices instead of judging them. Start to approach any challenge you have with curiosity, not judgement! Next time you start to do this with anything, stop, and simply say, “Isn’t it interesting that I chose …? What was I wanting to fulfill or avoid by this choice?”
Start to notice how you can learn from what you did, say, etc. and move forward to better yourself.
"Circumstances might be outside of our control, but choices are ours!"
KAHA TAHI = Strength Together!
Written by Heidi Hills-
Certified Behavioral Health & Life Coach
from Kaha Tahi Coaching
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