We all know that feeling. Whether it’s lack of energy, or general sadness at the lack of sunlight you get to see every day, the winter blues gets all of us one way or another. The cold combined with the perpetual gloominess is even scientifically proven to dampen people’s moods more often than in other, sunnier times of the year. It’s pretty hard for your mood not to be affected if you’re always cold and it looks like the Twilight movies outside.
The “winter blues” is also often confused with seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – aptly named, I know – which is an actual mood disorder that affects about 1 to 9 percent of Americans. However, the winter blues does account for the sullen moods and lack of energy in more than 20 percent of Americans each year. If you’re suffering from any form of winter depression, these simple tips can help you brighten up your cloudy skies and lift your mood.
Take a Vacation
One of the best ways to improve your winter blues is to leave the frigid weather behind and go on a sunny vacation. Being under the sun is proven to brighten your mood even if you have a more severe form of seasonal depression. Going on a relaxing beach getaway or booking a cruise to beautiful, sunny islands can be just the trick to turn that frown upside down.
If you’d rather not stray too far, booking a staycation can also be affective for improving your mood. You can travel to a place nearby that you’ve always wanted to visit, and have a mini-adventure or relaxing getaway to beat the blues.
If you can’t go somewhere sunny because you’re all out of vacation days or just can’t afford the plane ticket, you can still try to stay warm. Even small things like staying by a fireplace or drinking some hot cocoa can help improve your mood.
The cold plays a big part in winter depression and it can affect your mood almost as much as the lack of sun. So don’t be afraid to splurge on some quality chocolate and make yourself a steaming cup of real hot cocoa. Enjoy it by your fireplace while getting lost in a good book, or your twitter feed, whichever works.
Jam Out To Your Favorite Songs
Jamming out to your favorite tunes may not seem like a fix for the winter blues, but a study done by the University of Missouri in 2013 suggests otherwise. According to the study, listening to happy, upbeat music can help improve your mood during the gloomier months of the year.
So, put in those air pods and shake off your winter blues with the help of T-Swift and all your other favorite artists. Throw in some dancing and you’ve already got a head start on the next item on our list.
Stay Active and Eat Healthy
Staying healthy is a general rule we should all try to follow, no matter how good french fries are. However, eating healthy and exercising are even more important when you’re experiencing forms of winter depression.
Greasy and carb-heavy foods, although delicious, have been shown to make you feel sluggish, which will only contribute to the lack of energy you may already be experiencing. To avoid these carb-crashes, try eating lighter, healthier meals rich in vegetables and fruits. This will give you the energy to make it through your day and keep your mood from plummeting.
Exercising releases endorphins, which is a fancy way of saying it releases the chemicals that make you happy. Endorphins can relieve stress and boost happiness, even if you might feel like you’re dying in the middle of your workout. Find an exercise routine you enjoy doing and stick with it during this season to keep the winter blues – and the winter weight – away.
Get Some Fresh Air
Even if you don’t have a reason for leaving your home, it’s good to get out periodically during winter. Going outside for a short walk or even just to sit on a bench in a park can help improve your mood, even when it’s cold.
Meanwhile, staying at home for extended periods of time can cause feelings of isolation and depression, especially if you live alone. Changing your scenery and breathing in some fresh air can make all the difference.
Keep a Routine
One of the most important things to remember during sun-less months is to keep a routine or schedule. Not being able to get out of bed and start the day without the help of the sun is one of the major symptoms of seasonal depression.
The sun helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which includes waking up and keeping a set sleeping schedule. Without it around to tell our bodies to wake up, it can be incredibly hard to maintain a stable routine.
However, there are a few ways to help your body adjust to periods of little to no sunlight. For example, there are winter depression lamps, or sun lamps, that can turn on with a timer to help coax your body out of slumber by simulating the sunrise.
You can also give yourself small tasks to do on the weekend, like laundry or grocery shopping. These can keep you busy enough to ward off the temptation of staying in bed all day.
Now, this may seem like an oversimplified solution to winter depression, but laughter really is the best medicine for sadness. Hit up your friends and have a game night at home, go to a comedy club or catch some comedy specials on Netflix. Do whatever you need to do to get the laughs going and keep the winter blues at bay.