We hope you had a wonderful Valentine's weekend full of love and fun!
I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to feel the mid-winter drag and I'm getting a tad bit antsy for Spring to finally get here.
The sun is shining less, the weather is colder, snow is still in the forcast for much of the country, and, even though the days are getting longer, they are still too short for me.
Do you feel the same?
For most people, it manifests as winter blues, the "I-can't-wait-for-winter-to-end" feeling that produces mild sluggishness and food cravings. But about 11 million Americans have a more severe form of winter depression -- seasonal affective disorder (SAD)¹.
With SAD, the lack of sunlight causes the brain to work overtime producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body clock and sleep patterns and a hormone that has been linked to depression. That's why, all things considered, the farther north from the equator you live, the greater the risk you'll have some degree of winter depression. Only about 1% of Florida residents have some winter-specific discomfort or depression, compared to about half of those living in uppermost parts of the U.S. or in southern Canada¹.
So, how do you shake the mid-winter blues to get you through winter?
Read on for some helpful tips we've found to get you out of the mid-winter funk you may be in...
Make your environment BRIGHTER.
Even though the sun may not be shining, it's still a good idea to open up those shades, trim those tree branches near your home, and sit closer to your windows this winter. Another good option is to invest in a lightbox. These have proven to be just as effective as antidepressants and may help your body get the daily dose of light that it needs each day.
Make sure you are eating smart, healthy choices each day. Try and stay away from candy and carbohydrates as these provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression. If you were gifted chocolate this Valentine's Day, go ahead and eat it as it can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety - just don't go too overboard. :-)
A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality. So, make sure you are moving every day so you can benefit from the mood-boosting endorphins that exercise releases.
Listen to music.
Turn on your favorite, upbeat tunes while you are working around the house, on your computer at the coffee shop, or while you are exercising. Music can truly boost anyone's mood in the short-term and even the long-term. So, crank up the music in the car and belt out your favorite song...don't worry...no one else will hear you. :-)
Doing something nice for another person always invokes a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Whether it's providing a meal for a neighbor or friend, holding the door for a stranger, or even paying for someone's coffee, these little good deeds can really boost your mood for the day or week. Do something helpful each day and before you know it, you've created a wonderful habit for life!
Do something you love.
Nothing bums me out more than not making a little time for myself to do something I love. Life is boring if you're not having fun and engaging in activities that you enjoy with people you love or just by yourself. So, get out and go to a painting class, scrapbook your family memories, get dirty in the garden, or go shopping and buy yourself something fabulous! Whatever you do, just don't forget to take time for yourself each week.
Spend time with happy people.
Although you may not feel like socializing, it can be beneficial to force yourself to surround yourself with friends. If you wait until you feel like getting out and about, you may never do it. Once you're socializing you may find that you've suddenly gotten in the mood to be with other people. Before you know it, you'll be laughing and feeling SO much better!
Head to the beach.
When all else fails and you just need to feel the warm sun and sand between your toes, plan a getaway to a sunny destination to rejuvenate and soak up some Vitamin D. A couple of weeks away from your daily routine and gloomy weather can do wonders for your mood - at least until Spring arrives.
Hopefully these tips will help to perk you up and make winter a little more bearable.
What are some ways you beat the winter blues? Let me know in the comments!
Yours in Health & Happiness,