Beating the Winter Blues

[avatar user=”dponieman” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=””]by Diego Ponieman M.D., M.P.H.[/avatar]

One of the great things about the winter season is the snow, hot chocolate and the fun spent inside with loved ones. However, you have probably also experienced the down side of the colder weather and shorter days.

This may cause a bit of seasonal funk, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Truth is, the lack of daylight exposure and changes in serotonin and melatonin levels can cause some people to experience the ‘winter blues,’ otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seasonal affective disorder appears during late fall or early winter and tends to go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Symptoms can include depression, low energy, changes in weight or appetite, feeling sluggish or agitated, or experiencing problems with sleeping.

If you or someone you know is beginning to experience some of these symptoms, here are some simple things you can do to combat them and lift your mood:

  1. Lighten up. Your body and brain are craving daylight, which makes your body release the feel-good hormone serotonin. Walk outside during the day to get some sun exposure or sit closer to windows during the day, which can also help you get an extra dose o sunshine.
  2. Eat to improve your mood. A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and keep away the added winter weight. Balance your craving for carbs with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can help you feel more optimistic in the long run. Check out our DASH Nutrition Page for more info.
  3. Get moving. Being active and exercising are great ways to help deal with low Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes can have a significant impact on your mood.
  4. Turn up the tunes. Listening to upbeat music can also lead to an improved mood. Turn on your favorite music and reap the benefits of feeling happier.
  5. Help others. Volunteering your time to help someone can improve mental health and how satisfied you feel with your life.
  6. Stay social. Spending time with your friends and loved ones can have a serious impact in your mood, so ask someone to encourage you to keep your commitments.
  7. Relax. Being mindful, doing deep breath exercises, and meditating can all have a significant impact on how you feel.
  8. Be kind to yourself. If you skip a workout, listen to a sad song, or stay in all day, don’t get mad at yourself.

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But when you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally do, be sure to seek help and talk to your doctor. That said, by following our tips, you can be sure kick the ‘winter blues’ and continue to be the best, healthy you!