As the colder weather rolls in and the amount of daylight begins to decrease, you might start to feel something called the winter blues. And let me tell you right now, you are not alone.
The winter blues affect many of us, but it’s important to know that there are lifestyle changes and healthy habits we can adapt to lessen the severity of these unwanted feelings. By adapting some of these habits, we can shift our mindset and possibly enjoy the winter months a little more.
What is the winter blues?
The winter blues is a feeling of sadness throughout the colder seasons, like fall and winter. The feelings associated with the winter blues might include lack of motivation at times, fatigue, feelings of unhappiness, lack of concentration and poor sleeping patterns.
During the winter months, you might leave for work in the dark, spend your day indoors and then return back home from work in the dark. This lack of sunlight can play a big role in your overall mood. Maybe you work from home but forget to take your lunch break by spending some time outdoors and just taking in some of that natural daylight. This too can possibly cause some unwanted feelings of sadness.
Fortunately there are habits we can build, and things we can do to lessen these feelings, to start feeling happier and get through the winter blues.
I would like to make a note that there is a difference between the winter blues and something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and that is based on the severity of the emotions you are feeling. If you are feeling like lifestyle changes and habits aren’t helping with these emotions, it may be time to seek medical advice from a professional to help you manage your symptoms in a way that works best for you. Again, please know that you are not alone.
Ideas To Help You Through The Winter Blues
Consider Your Vitamin D Intake
A lack of vitamin D can have an effect on your overall mood and also be linked to depression. As we already know, a good portion of vitamin D comes from sunrays and there is definitely a shortage of that during the winter months. Fortunately, there are other sources of vitamin D including through vitamin D rich foods and supplements. Some foods containing vitamin D include: fatty fish (salmon, tuna), fish oils, mushrooms, and some fortified foods like breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt and milk. Incorporating more of these vitamin D rich foods into your diet, looking into a vitamin D supplement and spending time out in the sun on the nicer days can be beneficial to your wellness during the winter months!
When the days get shorter and darker, the weather colder and snowy, and the roads a little less nice to drive on, it can be easy to throw on some comfy pj’s, cuddle up on the couch and opt out of any plans that may involve braving the outdoors and all of its elements. Every now and then, this is fine, don’t get me wrong. But take note if it begins to be a pattern. Isolation and loneliness tend to creep up with this type of behavior and can make the winter blues worse. Try your best to be mindful of making and keeping plans with loved ones. Whether it be going for a coffee date, for nice walks, or having a phone call or video chat – make it a weekly priority to set something up and keep your social life and mood in a positive place.
Moving your body every day is crucial to your health and wellness, especially during the winter months when you’re maybe feeling more down and sluggish. I know, it can feel easier sometimes pushing exercise off to the side and to another day, but your mind and body will thankyou for making it a priority. Exercising for a minimum of 30mins a day doesn’t have to feel impossible. Maybe you split it up into two 15 minute exercises or maybe even three 10 minute walks. Whichever way you choose, just know that moving all of that stagnant internal energy and releasing those feel-good endorphins is truly an amazing feeling.
Prioritize You Time
You time and self-care are always important, but sometimes not made as a priority. When the winter blues hit, be one step ahead with ideas and activities to help you get through the slump. Maybe cuddling up on the couch with a good book or binge watching your favourite shows hits the spot, or maybe it’s relaxing in a luxurious epsom salt bath, maybe it’s journaling. My suggestion is doing something for the mind, body and soul.
For The Mind
Something that challenges the mind like learning a new hobby, a new skill or even a new language.
For The Body
Something that drives you to be more active. Maybe it’s a 30 day challenge, or setting up a workout routine.
For The Soul
Something that connects you with who you are at the core. This can be done through meditation, mindfulness yoga and other practices.
Get Enough Light
As already mentioned, the winter months mean less daylight. Don’t be afraid to open up those blinds/curtains and let more of that natural light shine through. Get outside more to really claim that sunlight while it’s there. And for the darker rooms, maybe add some lighting to create more of an illusion of daylight and to brighten up the space.
Another great idea is to try something called Light Therapy. It’s used to help with a variety of mental health conditions including the winter blues. It involves the process of sitting near a lightbox for 20-40 minute sessions a day for several weeks and is said to increase alertness, mood, energy, attention and concentration.
The winter blues can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Fortunately, with some lifestyle changes and healthy habits you can minimize the affects of feeling down and begin feeling happier, more optimistic and at peace throughout the winter months.
Stay warm and cozy!