The winter blahs and blues. Just about all of us get them at some point – be it for a few moments, weeks or worse, a few months. No doubt, it’s not easy to remain mentally and physically buoyant when winter’s icy temps, grey skies and darkness collide. Even the sunniest souls among us can get pushed to the brink, but, fortunately, there are ways to make the dark days seem a little less so. Here are a few of Team Be Well’s best blues-beaters to help you take on winter and emerge victorious—and ready for spring:
IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT
Anything you can do that makes your body feel good, short of drugs or alcohol or over-indulging in unhealthy foods, is worth doing, because feel-good activities help release your body’s reserves of natural, mood-boosting endorphins. To tap into them, indulge in a massage, hit the steam room or book an infrared sauna session at a local spa. Regular exercise, sex and laughter are other pleasurable activities that get endorphins flowing.
DRINK IN A LITTLE SUN
Morning light is a body-clock regulating mood-booster, so if the sun is shining, get out there. Walk to work, walk to the corner to get your lunch, or sit on a park bench and point your face into the sun for a few minutes every day. Your body is thirsty for sunshine so give it daily ‘sips’ to help boost mood and energy until the winter blues season tails off in mid-April.
GLOW FROM THE INSIDE
Full spectrum light bulbs help boost energy and mood, while being easier on you eyes. Though not a sun replacement, they’re a good way to supplement it when daylight is in short supply. Use them in areas where you want to feel a bit more alert, for example in your office or living room, not the bedroom.
SHAKE YOUR GROOVE THING
For a quick daytime mood and energy-boost, shake each limb for a few seconds, one at a time, to wake your body up and get energy flowing again. First thing in the morning, do the Reclining Open Chest Pose to combat the seasonal energy drain. In the pose, the back and upper body is supported and the chest is open, giving you a much-needed, relaxing stretch — all of which helps you feel more physically and mentally energized.
JUST SAY NO
Bottom line: You cannot drink the blues away, so don’t try. Keep alcohol intake to an absolute minimum, particularly in winter. Cocktails compound winter blues, depress mood, disrupt sleep and bomb you with energy and immunity-sapping sugar, so outsmart the season by staying sober throughout it.
BURN UP IT UP OUTDOORS
Exercise helps boost serotonin levels, which is one of the brain chemicals that helps regulate feelings of well-being and hunger, while an hour of outdoor exercise offers the same mood lift as 2.5 hours of light treatment indoors. So when you work it outdoors you get the best of both and you’ll burn more a bit more fat as your body works harder to maintain your core temperature.
GET THE GIGGLES
Laughter makes blood pressure and stress levels dip, aids the release of feel-good endorphins and boosts feelings of well-being, so make time to hang out with upbeat, fun-loving people whose company you truly enjoy. Save the Debbie Downers in your life till spring, to help yourself remain buoyant.
FEED YOUR HEAD
Though you may be craving sugar, comfort foods and sleep-inducing simple carbs, they’re counter-productive to keeping sprits high, so trade them for lean protein and complex carbs. They’ll help feed your gut and brain the nutrients they need to keep your mood on an even keel.
TAKE SOME HAPPY PILLS
If possible, avoid pharmaceuticals and support your mood via healthy supplements with winter-time blues-taming effects:
· Vitamin D : If you live in North America where sun is in short supply at this time of year, try taking 2,000 IU/day of Vitamin D to help keep brain chemistry and neurotransmitter action at optimal levels.
· Melatonin, 1-2mg of melatonin at bedtime can be helpful to relieve some seasonal symptoms (but don’t take it for more than a few nights in a row).
· 5-HTP is the precursor in the biosynthesis of mood-boosting serotonin, so I often recommend 200-400mg at bedtime.
· Magnesium: 400-600mg of magnesium glycinate taken at bedtime is well tolerated by most people.
One last word of advice: pile it on! By adding several blues-busters your daily routine, you’ll lessen the severity and likelihood of a recurrence – and that’s a ray of sunshine right there!