The holidays are a time of joy, merriment, and general cheer. The lights and decorations give the ordinary sights of our town a hint of magic. Or maybe not. If you don’t feel so cheery during the holidays – or winter in general – you’ll be relieved to learn you’re not alone. Millions of Americans feel a bit down, tired, or irritable during winter. If you’re struggling to find your Christmas cheer, check out our top 7 tips to beat the winter blues.
As the weather gets colder, it’s hard to find your motivation to go to the gym or out for a run. But this may just the be time you most need to stay active. Exercise releases mood-lifting endorphins and boosts energy levels. Even a 20-minute walk a few times a week can have a noticeable effect. So dust off those sneakers and get moving!
When you’re tired and sad, you probably crave comfort food, which is usually high carb, high sugar, and high fat. And those cravings can be much more difficult to ignore than normal. But eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, fruit, and vegetables will leave you feeling much better. And don’t worry so much if you already grabbed that donut. Eating more vegetables benefits your health regardless of what else you eat.
Phone a Friend
It’s easy to want to hole up on your couch under a pile of blankets when you’re feeling icky, but isolating yourself can increase feelings of isolation and sadness. Social isolation can even potentially affect your health long term. Even if it feels like a stretch, challenge yourself to get out and meet family or friends. A bit of human connection goes a long way.
See the Light
Scientists believe that seasonal mood disorders may have a lot to do with the decrease in sunlight. If you hate those early sunsets, you may want to try a light therapy box. Household light bulbs don’t provide the full spectrum of light. Light boxes are designed to mimic the light of the sun, which can lift your mood and help you get up in the morning. Just 15-30 minutes in the morning may make a big difference. Be careful about using a light box later in the day, though, as it can throw off your body’s natural schedule.
Take Your Vitamins
Another way to combat the lack of sunlight is to add supplements to your routine. Your body can’t produce Vitamin D naturally, unlike most essential nutrients, and the sun is a major source of this vitamin for most people. You may feel a bit perkier if you add Vitamin D supplements to your diet. And while you’re at it, grab a good multivitamin as well to complement your balanced diet.
Do you find yourself going to bed late and getting up late? This may be a sign that your sleep schedule is disturbed, i.e. your body’s internal clock doesn’t line up with what’s going on outside. If you can get back in sync with nature, you’ll likely feel much better. As mentioned above, a light therapy box may help. Other ways to reset your sleep schedule include:
- Stick to a schedule. It’s tempting to sleep in on weekends, but this won’t help to fix your sleep patterns.
- Keep it dark. Darkness is a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Get rid of any sources of light in your bedroom for a more restful night.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day. Even if you have a high caffeine tolerance, those afternoon coffees may be disrupting your sleep schedule.
Call the Doctor
If you’ve tried all the home remedies and you’re still struggling, make an appointment with your family physician. Your symptoms could be a sign of a more serious problem such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or Depression. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and help you understand your options for treatment. You don’t have to tough it out if your symptoms are affecting your daily life.
What’s your favorite winter pick-me-up? Don’t forget to like and share!