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Beat The Winter Blues

Feeling like you are in a winter funk? Whether it is the cold weather, less daylight, or the departure of holiday happiness, many people go through winter feeling sluggish, tired, moody, and low in energy.  Some have trouble sleeping and others experience changes in their appetite or in their weight.  If this sounds like you, read on for the 6 things you need to get to beat the winter blues.

1) Get Out In The Sun

The feeling of the winter blues may be a result of not getting enough sunlight.  Sunlight, which is around less often in the winter months, helps regulate your circadian rhythm – your internal body clock that tells you when it is time to sleep, wake up, and even eat!  So bundle up, get outside, and take a walk or eat lunch at a nearby park.  Or, if you don’t want to brave the cold, simply position your office desk, your dining table, or your daytime chair near a window to let the sun’s rays shine in.

2) Get Healthy Foods

Do the winter blues have you craving carbs? You are SO not alone! People who have the winter blues tend to see an increase in their appetite and tend to crave more carbohydrates. If this is you, try choosing healthy sources of carbs (like fruit, whole grains, and vegetables) instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, or products made with white flour.  Also, make sure you include ample foods with omega-3s, like fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, and foods with vitamin D, like mushrooms, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and egg yolks. Not getting enough omega-3s or vitamin D may contribute to unwanted shifts in mood and mental status.1-2

3) Get Movement And Exercise

Moving more – whether it is an hour at the gym, a half-hour outdoor walk, or dancing to music at home – helps release hormones that relieve stress and anxiety.  Get your sweat on doing an activity you love, or try meditative movement therapies like yoga, tai chi, or qi gong, to help you move more and relax all at the same time.3 

4) Get More Laughs

Read a funny book, listen to a joke, or go to a comedy show. Laughter can help improve your mood, help lessen your body’s response to stress, and may help counteract symptoms of depression.4

5) Get Better Sleep

Those going through a winter funk tend to have poorer quality sleep.  Poor quality sleep can raise your stress hormones and make it harder for you to lose weight…not fun! Aim to get better sleep this winter by limiting caffeine and alcohol (especially in the hours before bedtime!), by powering down electronics at least an hour before bed, and by keeping your room cool, dark, and quiet.  Also, eat your vegetables and fruits! Research has demonstrated that adolescents who eat more vegetables and fruits tend to sleep longer.5

6) Get Your Doctor's Help

While common, seasonal affective disorder (“SAD”) can be a serious concern.  If you are experiencing more than just the winter blues and are having suicidal thoughts or behaviors, if you use alcohol or illegal drugs to help you relax, or if you have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, please see your doctor.


The good news: now that we are past the winter solstice, the days are getting longer which means we get more sunlight.  And with each day, we are closer to spring and summer! Yay!  

How do you beat the winter blues? Share your tips with me on Twitter or Instagram @ToriSchmittRDN and – if you use Foxy vegetables to help you get better health, tag them too @FoxyProduce!

References:

1.      Grosso G, Pajak A, Marventano S, et al. Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Treatment of Depressive Disorders: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Malaga G, ed. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(5):e96905. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096905.


2.      Gloth FM 3rd, Alam W, Hollis B. Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(1):5-7.


3.      Payne P, Crane-Godreau MA. Meditative movement for depression and anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013 Jul 24;4:71. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00071. eCollection 2013.


4.      Fonzi L, Matteucci G, Bersani G. Laughter and depression: hypothesis of pathogenic and therapeutic correlation. Riv Psichiatr. 2010 Jan-Feb;45(1):1-6.


5.      Ferranti R, Marventano S, Castellano S, et al. Sleep quality and duration is related with diet and obesity in young adolescent living in Sicily, Southern Italy. Sleep Science. 2016;9(2):117-122. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2016.04.003.

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