Gray skies, cold weather, post-holiday financial stress, and other factors can all contribute to winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”) is relatively common and can make for a long winter if you don’t make a point to support your mood. Many people turn to caffeine, alcohol, or drugs to cope. Others use overworking or simply denial when faced with the winter blahs. Unfortunately, those strategies only make it worse. Here are 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
Self-care can be one of the hardest things to do. Some of us would rather take a quick-fix pill than make time for self-care and stress reduction, but there’s no pill to replace these things. Taking care of yourself is essential for your own health and for your ability to be there for others. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, we have tips for finding ways to reduce stress. Just find what works best for you, whether that’s reading a book, getting a massage, or taking time to float in a float tank. It’s important to make time for these simple pleasures. They’ll help you battle the blahs while the days start getting longer.
2 – Give Up Inflammatory Foods
Your food affects your mood! Inflammatory foods can really mess up your gut — which you probably already know. Most 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 neurotransmitters affect your mood. If you want to overcome the winter blues, you have to give your gut a chance by giving up foods that cause inflammation. That means avoiding foods like dairy, gluten, sugar, and other foods that cause inflammation. It also means getting your food allergies tested. Whenever you eat foods that you personally are allergic to, it causes inflammation in your gut. Surprisingly, these can be otherwise healthy foods, like lettuce, tomatoes, and eggs.
3 – Have Some Chocolate
Do you need a reason to have more chocolate? Well, here’s one: it helps lift your mood! Chocolate is full of nutrients and antioxidants that help your body function optimally. It also helps raise some of those mood-regulating neurotransmitters that can help get us out of that winter funk. Chocolate can increase dopamine, phenylethylamine (PEA), oxytocin, and serotonin. In fact, chocolate is one of the best foods on the planet for serotonin. Enjoy that chocolate, but make sure it’s the real dark chocolate that’s not loaded with milk, sugars, and chemicals.
4 – Make Regular Chiropractic Adjustments a Habit
Regular chiropractic adjustments can help keep your mood in alignment just like it does your spine. Traumas, big and small, can cause subluxations or misalignments in the vertebrae. These subluxations affect the nervous system and neurotransmitters, including ones that affect our moods.
When you think of what causes misalignments, 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, but think even smaller… Think bad posture, less-than-ideal sleep positions, carrying heavy bags, shoveling, or even a massive 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! Exercise gets your blood moving and your endorphins going. It’s even been shown to improve your gut health. Research has found that for some people, exercise is more effective at reducing depression than prescription pills. (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 frequent walks can support a positive outlook on life.
6 – Get Your Vitamin D
Most people don’t get enough Vitamin D in the winter months (or summer, either). Vitamin D is an amazing hormone that your body makes when exposed to the sun. You can also get it from a handful of foods listed below. Vitamin D is part of many biological processes and supports not only a healthy body but a happy one! Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, and taking Vitamin D supplements has been shown to lower the risk of depression. (2)
You can get Vitamin D from tuna, salmon, mackerel, mushrooms, and eggs. There are also great supplements that help raise your vitamin D levels and your mood.
7 – Sweat in the Sauna
During a cold winter, sitting in a hot sauna is generally pretty appealing. There’s also a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests it can elevate your mood. Some studies have also 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 heat. (3) Sweat out those winter blues with a sauna session! You can often find them at a local spa, YMCA, or 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 and also a great time to enjoy winter activities with friends. Don’t let winter blahs take the joy out of the snowy months. Life is all about enjoying the journey, and the journey includes winter!