4 Tips to Stave Off the Winter Blues
After weeks of bone-chillingly cold temperatures, snowy weather and too few daylight hours, are you struggling to find the energy to get through your day? Are you feeling moody or “down in the dumps”? Whether you experience noticeable depression or just a touch of the winter blues when the days grow cold and short, understanding the science behind the behavior can help you to lift your spirits. Here are some ways to keep the dark days of winter from negatively impacting your life.
Don’t Let Your Mood Drop With the Temperature
- Let there be light. Researchers believe milder cases of winter depression are primarily triggered by a lack of exposure to sunlight. Lack of sunlight can also lead to low levels of vitamin D, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, depression and disrupted sleep patterns. Exposure to sunlight – even on cloudy days – is a simple and powerful way to improve your spirits. Head outside for a brief walk a few times per week if the weather is warm enough (but leave some skin exposed to stimulate vitamin D production). Just be sure not to stay out too long and risk sunburn.
- Get more vitamin D. Not enough sun exposure during the winter can result in vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to depression. However, you can get a substantial amount of this vitamin through the foods you eat. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include fortified milk, fortified cereals, eggs, mushrooms and fatty fish. A simple blood test at RediClinic can determine your vitamin D level. If you do have a deficiency, a RediClinic board-certified clinician will recommend or prescribe a daily supplement and the appropriate dosage.
- Exercise regularly. Commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Exercise gets your endorphins flowing, which is one of the best cures for the winter blues. If you live in an area with harsh winters, here are some tips to help you maintain a workout routine through the cold months.
- Reach out. Your body may want to stay home and hibernate through the winter, but social interaction is one of the best ways to fight winter depression. Schedule time with family and friends, and look for meaningful ways to serve in your community.
Is It the Winter Blues or Something More?
If you are feeling sad and sluggish in the winter months in a way that seriously impacts the quality of your life, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a type of severe depression related to the change in seasons. Speak to your primary care physician for help in addressing SAD symptoms.