Grey skies, cold weather, holiday stress and other factors can all contribute to winter blues. It’s fairly common and can make for a long winter if you don’t take action to boost your mood. Some people turn to caffeine, alcohol, drugs, overworking or even denial when faced with winter blahs but those just make it worse. I have some healthy ways to help you beat the winter blues.
Beat the Winter Blues: 7 Healthy Ways to Battle the Blahs
1 – Self-Care and Reducing Stress
This can be one of the hardest things to do. Some of you would rather take a pill than try to find time for self-care and reducing stress. There is no pill to replace this. It is so important for your health and for your ability to be there for others. We have tips for finding ways to reduce stress. Find what works for you whether that’s reading a book, getting a massage or taking a float. It’s important and will help you battle the blahs.
2 – Give Up Inflammatory Foods
Your food affects your mood! Inflammatory foods can really mess up your gut which you probably already know. The majority of people have gut problems and need to pay attention to what their poop is telling them. What you might not realize is that the gut is where the majority of your neurotransmitters are made, and those neurotransmitters affect your mood. If you want to have a chance against winter blues, you have to give your gut a chance by giving up foods that cause inflammation. Avoid foods like dairy, gluten, sugar, and other foods that cause inflammation.
3 – Have Some Chocolate
Do you need a reason to have more chocolate? It helps boost your mood! Chocolate is full of nutrients and antioxidants that help your body function optimally. It also helps boost some of those mood regulating neurotransmitters that can help get us out of our winter funk. Chocolate can increase dopamine, phenylethylamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Chocolate is one of the best foods on the planet for serotonin.
Enjoy that chocolate but make sure it’s the real, dark chocolate not loaded with milk, sugars and chemicals.
4 – Make Regular Chiropractic Adjustments a Habit
Making regular chiropractic adjustments a habit will help keep your mood in alignment. Traumas, big and small, can cause subluxations, or misalignments in the vertebrae. These subluxations affect the nervous system and neurotransmitters like the ones that affect our moods.
When you think of a misalignment you might think of something big like a car accident, but it can be something small too. Yes, a fall on the ice can do it too but think smaller too. Think bad posture, sleep positions, carrying heavy bags, shoveling, or even a sneeze. That’s why regular chiropractic appointments are so important. Find a chiropractic clinic near you to keep your mood in alignment.
5 – Take Time to Exercise
There are so many benefits to exercise for a healthy body and a happy one! Exercise gets your blood moving, endorphins going and has even been shown to improve your gut health. Exercise has been shown to be more effective at reducing depression than prescription pills for some people. (1) Find ways to exercise that are sustainable for you and make it fun. If you hate running, don’t run. There are lots of exercise options. What do you like to do? Do that! Martial arts, Zumba, biking, ice skating, yoga, or even just walking regularly can boost your mood.
6 – Get Your Vitamin D
Most people don’t get enough Vitamin D in the winter (and unfortunately summer too). Vitamin D is an amazing hormone that you can get from foods and that your body makes when your skin is exposed to the sun. It is part of many biological processes and supports not only a healthy body but a happy one too! Vitamin D has been linked to depression and taking Vitamin D supplements has been shown to prevent depression. (2)
You can get Vitamin D from foods like tuna, salmon, mackerel, mushrooms and eggs. There are also great supplements to help boost your levels and your mood.
7 – Sweat in the Sauna
During a cold winter a sauna probably sounds pretty nice to warm you up. There’s also a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests it can boost your mood. I know I feel great after time in a sauna, especially in the winter. There are also studies that have shown that a sauna session can reduce depression. One study showed a 50% reduction in depression for those with major depression who had a sauna treatment versus a similar treatment without the heat. (3) Sweat out those winter blues with a sauna session! You can often find them at a local gym.
Enjoy the Season by Beating Winter Blues
A healthy lifestyle can help you prevent and beat the winter blues. It’s also important to find time to enjoy the season. It’s a time for getting cozy with self-reflection but also a great time to enjoy winter activities with friends. Don’t let winter blahs take the joy out of the season. Like I say, it’s about enjoying the journey and the journey includes winter!
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Resources for Beat the Winter Blues