The winter months bring us the holidays, a new year, and many other meaningful times of life. But colder temperatures and shorter days can also spur an imbalance in some of us, causing a winter blues that lingers during the season.
If you’re seeking natural methods for dealing with low mood during the colder months of the year, here are some tips.
Get More Light
Shorter winter days mean less light exposure during waking hours, which may be a major contributor to winter blues. Thankfully, studies have shown exposure to bright light can help:
- Get in touch with as much natural light as you can throughout the day, especially in the middle of the day, when light is the strongest, or on days that are brighter.
- Try a light box. Using one is often recommended for depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The bright light stimulates retina cells and activates the hypothalamus in the brain, helping to restore circadian rhythm back to normal. Consider investing in a light box for your home or office and sitting in front of it for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours each morning.
Be Around Good People
Even if you don’t feel like it in the moment, being around the right people is good for your mental health and can help fight winter blues. Think of little ways to be around people who love you, such as a partner, friend or relative. Go out for coffee and a chat about life, invite them to dinner, or plan a walk in the evening.
You might also connect with people who share your passions or experiences by joining a regular Meetup group, support group, volunteering at a charity you care about, or getting involved at your church.
Even just showing up and being around others for a little while can help.
Snuggle a Pooch
People aren’t the only beings helpful in warding off the blues! Spend some time cuddling with a dog or petting a cat in your life for some pet therapy.
Move Your Body More
Exercise can be a fantastic mood booster and can also improve your health and help you sleep better. It doesn’t have to be anything intense, just find movement you enjoy. Simply getting a walk in during the day can help.
If you struggle with motivation to go alone, find a friend who will walk or go to the gym with you. It can double as your socialization time!
Fill Up on Whole Foods
Carbohydrate cravings tend to be stronger during the colder months and at times when we’re feeling down. This is because carbs boost serotonin in our brains, the “feel-good” chemical that enhances a sense of happiness.
The problem here is that filling up on simple carbohydrates like sugars, white breads and pastas, and other sweets can actually make us feel worse.
Instead, turn your focus to whole food sources of carbs like whole grains, sweet potatoes, green vegetables, and fruits. Set the intention to eat for nourishment of your body and mind, giving you more energy and helping to balance your mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also helpful for mood regulation. You can get omega-3s from fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, or from a high-quality supplement.
Supplements for Mood Support
Certain supplements can support mood and stress adaptation. Those include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
- Folic acid
- Rhodiola rosea
Speak with your practitioner or a specialist about high-quality supplement options for your needs.
Get Out of Your Head
Try yoga or meditation to increase mindfulness and restore a sense of calm and control in your life. Think about activities that give you joy like writing, painting, drawing, listening to music, or knitting that allow you to express yourself and get your emotions out in a creative and therapeutic way.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
If you’re feeling less than your best this time of year, try not to beat yourself up about it; that will only further add to your troubles. The only way to start feeling better is by giving yourself the love and attention to do so.
You deserve the time and space to rest more, feel your emotions, and lean on or confide in others, such as a trusted loved one or health professional, as needed to manage your health and wellness.