Before we get into 25 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues, let’s talk a little bit about what it is, and what causes it.
The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is defined as a mood disorder in which people who have “normal” mental health throughout most of the year, exhibit depressive symptoms. This is most commonly due to colder, darker Winter weather.
This is a common human reaction that has been conditioned into us over time. Back in the day, humankind would exhibit change in behaviour during the Winter, in order to reduce calorie intake. People would become less active, and some animals even hibernate. This is because there is a reduction in available food and sunlight in the Winter, making it more difficult to survive.
In 2017, most of us are fortunate enough to have what we need in abundance and easily survive the Winter, however that doesn’t mean the Winter Blues no longer affects us.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in activities, sleep and appetite problems, anxiety, withdrawal from social interaction, lack of energy, easy agitation and feelings of worthlessness.
Have you been experiencing one or more of these symptoms since the colder weather hit? If so, have no fear, here are 25 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues! Please note: The links in this post are Amazon Affiliate Links, meaning if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
25 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues:
- Stick to a sleep schedule that allows you to see as much sun as possible. Since the sun sets around 5pm, wake up earlier so you get enough sunlight in your day.
- Eat foods rich in Omega 3. This will help to regulate neurotransmitters like Dopamine and Serotonin. Salmon is high in Omega 3, or you can take Omega 3 supplements, like Fish Oil.
- Listen to upbeat music. Personally, listening to joyful Christmas music this time of year always puts me in a better mood. Make a playlist of your favourite songs and put it on when you need a mood-booster!
- Reduce your sugar intake. Sugar gives you a temporary high, but will end up crashing your mood lower than normal. Avoid sugary foods this time of year.
- Make your bed every morning. A book that I enjoyed recently, called “Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven, had a lot of excellent points. The main one was that if you begin your day by making your bed, it is one task accomplished. Although it seems like a small feat, it gives you the positive reinforcement you need to know that you can be productive today.
- Write down your thoughts. Keeping a journal, writing a song, or even painting a picture that you feel conveys your emotions can be extremely helpful. If you are feeling down and you aren’t sure why, try writing it out. This is the bullet journal that I have been using that my boyfriend got for me on Amazon!
- Decorate your place with bright colours. The dreary, dismal Winter days can certainly be a downer. Keep your space bright and mood-boosting by finding some affordable decorations that liven up and lighten up your place.
- Exercise. I know it’s not what you want to hear but being in motion boosts your feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. The quickest way to do this is by incorporating High Intensity Interval Training into your daily schedule. HIIT workouts give you the biggest mood booster in the shortest amount of time.
- The 5 minute rule. Do you need to clean your room, or work on a project you’ve been avoiding? Try it for five minutes. Chances are, once you start the task you will be more motivated to complete it. If not, you will at least have a little bit done!
- Stay social. One of my biggest challenges is forcing myself to go out in Winter weather. I sometimes want to cancel my plans instead of braving the cold. While this might seem like a good option initially, the truth is staying social boosts your mood and once you meet up with your friends, you will make some happy memories be so glad you decided to go out.
- Aromatherapy. Essential oils can be an excellent way to help regulate your mood. If you are in need of energy, stimulating scents like grapefruit and lemon should wake you up! On the other hand, bergamot, orange and sandalwood can help calm any anxiety or sleep issues you may be having.
- Plan a vacation. This way to beat the Winter blues may not be the most affordable, but it is probably one of the most effective! Planning a holiday to get you back in the sunshine and out of the cold will certainly help fight off any negative feelings.
- Go outside within a couple hours of waking up. As much as you might not want to, heading outside will give you a bit of fresh air and sunlight that will help invigorate you. If you tackle this within the first 2 hours of waking up, it can make the rest of your day happier and more productive.
- Avoid bright screens near bedtime. At nighttime, your body releases melatonin to help make you sleepy. When you still have a bright screen in front of you, it could delay the release of this chemical and in turn disrupt your sleep schedule.
- Take Vitamin D. One major reasons people have S.A.D. is because they become Vitamin D deficient in the Winter. If you can’t get outside very much, take Vitamin D3 supplements, also known as “the sunshine vitamin.”
- Create a daily routine. Something feels good about having a schedule and knowing what you need to do next. Have a To-Do List, or stick to a planned day to increase your activity.
- Watch a comedic movie. Laughing can sometimes really be the best medicine. Forget about your worries for a couple hours while you cozy up with your favourite snacks and a hilarious movie. Invite some friends and you will surely be smiling all night.
- Limit caffeine. Get to know your body and how much caffeine might be affecting your sleep schedule. As a general rule, you shouldn’t have any caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime.
- Treat yourself. When you can’t beat the Winter blues, try pampering yourself! Do your nails, have a warm bath, indulge in a glass of wine or do a face-mask! If you’re feeling run-down, spend some time putting yourself first.
- Set-up a light box. Many people find that adding a halogen work lamp, or light box can dramatically improve their mood and helps beat the winter blues. This is called light therapy and is supposed to mimic standing outdoors with sunlight shining down on you.
- Eat dark chocolate. Eating chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa, it increases dopamine levels in your body. This helps combat depression. Don’t mind if I do!
- Spend time with pets. Pets are just the greatest darn thing. With their unconditional love and cuddling abilities, who could stay upset? If you don’t have a pet, ask a friend if you can walk their dog or play with their kitten. Animal love is the best love.
- Add some spice. Adding ginger to your green smoothies, cinnamon to your almond milk or cayenne to your meals! It will certainly warm you up from the inside, out!
- Find things you love about Winter. Maybe you love the holidays, skating or skiing. Whatever it is, be thankful for Winter and embrace it as much as possible. Enjoy the magic of a snowfall and the beauty of icicles.
- Speak to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeking help when feeling down and depressed, or anxious. There are people who can help you in terms of therapy or medication. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask a loved one to help you book an appointment. Feeling amazing could be just around the corner, have hope!
These were my 25 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues.
I certainly feel these symptoms every Winter, especially now that I am in my 20’s. With these effective ways to stay on track, I am sure I can keep myself healthy and happy. (Until my favourite season rolls around again: Summer!)
Which of these tips do you want to try? Do you have any more ways to Beat the Winter Blues? Let me know in the comments!
Related Post: 15 Ways to Stay Warm this Winter