10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

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10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Written by Natalie Nichols, Staff Writer

Do you start feeling tired and depressed once fall rolls around? Perhaps you experience mood swings once the seasons start to change. If you have these symptoms you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that strikes people during the colder months of the year. But don't fretóyou can feel better starting with these 10 tips!

Let the Sunshine In

Just because the weather is chilly, that doesnít mean you canít enjoy some sunshine. Simply opening the blinds or lifting the shades at home and the office can turn the seasonal grumps into smiles and cheer. If you are able, try sitting under skylights or near larger windows and bask in the sunís glow even more.

Take Up a Winter Sport

It is human nature to want to stay warm and cozy when it is blustery cold outside. But why not take advantage of the fun sports only winter can bring? Grab some friends, the fam, or go solo as you ski, ice skate and snowboard away the winter blues. Not only will you feel happier, but you will get fit in the process.

Exercise Regularly

Cold weather surely can tempt you to want to curl up on the couch in your sweats with a soothing cup of hot cocoa in hand. But what happened to your favorite group fitness class at the gym? Remember that exercise releases feel-good endorphins that boost your mood. Exercising regularly will also help you burn excess calories and won't leave you with a sugar crash later on.

Cut the Comfort Food

It seems easier said than done (especially during holiday months), but you don't need to indulge in fatty sweets and fried, calorie-ridden comfort foods in order to feel contentment or happiness. Yes, comfort food can bring back a sense of nostalgia but healthy meals containing whole grains, fruits, veggies and plenty of water will provide your brain and your body with nutrients and give you a much needed energy boost.

Find Your Inner Yogi

Mind-body techniques such as yoga can help alleviate seasonal depression symptoms. You don't have to be a seasoned yoga master or the most flexible person in the world to enjoy the mental health benefits of yoga. Simple poses such as child's pose will help relax your nervous system and clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and stress.

Avoid Uppers and Downers

Much like comfort foods, alcohol and coffee can both be tempting to consume while you aren't feeling your best during winter months. Yes, coffee can give you an instant jolt which may sound like a good idea at the time, but once that caffeine high wears off, you will find yourself more tired than before. And though a nice glass of wine can help calm your nerves and ease your mind, drinking too much alcohol will leave you feeling down in the dumps. For a comforting drink without the drugs, try a mug of steamed milk instead.

Manage Stress with a Massage

Aside from relieving tension in your muscles, a relaxing massage can give you peace of mind. So, take time out for you and get a short, inexpensive 15-minute massage (or a longer one if you can!) and start reducing stress and anxiety. You can even use a foam roller for self-massage at home. You will feel more alert, blissfully rejuvenated and of course, happier.

Maintain a Consistent Schedule

Waking up and heading to bed at consistent times every day will not only help you get a good night's sleep, but will keep you on track with your exercise and healthy eating goals. This is especially true during colder months when the sun sets earlier and rises later. Resist the urge to hibernate and set the alarm for an early wake-up call. Productivity will make you feel good.

Plan a Vacation

Before winter rolls around, consider planning a vacation to a warmer climate. This will give you something to look forward to during the colder months and, in turn, will put you in better spirits. Even if you can only get away for a weekend, the warmth of the sun and relaxation of the surf will keep your seasonal depression symptoms at bay.

Get Out and Be Social

When you aren't feeling your best it can be very difficult to leave the house, let alone socialize. But being antisocial can actually make you feel more depressed and alone. Getting outside to hang out, chat and laugh with your friends can bring you much needed stress relief and put you in a joyous state. At the very least, just grab your boots and trek through the snow to a neighbor's house for a welcoming change of scenery.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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CATHYG7

1/21/2012 9:54:58 PM

CATHYG7's SparkPage
I don't see anything to be blue about in winter! I love the cold and the snow. I choose to view winter as an opportunity to get a different type of exercise. I have been walking in the snow, playing in it with my kids and dogs! I am losing weight!! I wish you all the very best!

GRANDMAPATTYV

1/21/2012 11:22:04 AM

GRANDMAPATTYV's SparkPage
I thought it was just me being lazy! Glad to know others suffer from the season change too! I'm so trying to be positive this winter.....it just started here in minnesota and I have already been biking and ice skating, we're planning on sledding later today and walking to a movie! GOTTA keep active! Comfort food is also a down fall, but with the new sparkpeople cookbook I'm working on that area too! wish me luck!

TNELLY37

1/21/2012 2:33:41 AM

TNELLY37's SparkPage
Thank goodness I live in Texas, but I can still get the blues though.

BERMYSPARK

1/20/2012 6:52:23 PM

BERMYSPARK's SparkPage
I'm loving the cooler weather here in Bermuda :)

BIRDY100

1/20/2012 5:19:28 PM

My solution is to head south, winter in Florida.

4BOYMOM1

1/19/2012 7:44:43 PM

4BOYMOM1's SparkPage
My dogs go crazy every morning until I take them for a walk. Thank goodness or I probably wouldn't leave the house on these cold mornings!

SASSYTHING52

1/19/2012 6:55:39 PM

SASSYTHING52's SparkPage
thanks

BESCATS

1/19/2012 6:43:38 PM

BESCATS's SparkPage
Going out to the gym certainly helps. I use to hate winter when I was working - went to work in the dark & came home in the dark. Now that I'm retired, I can enjoy the daylight all day long.

BJENKINS1014

1/19/2012 4:46:32 PM

BJENKINS1014's SparkPage
Thanks! Most helpful!

ASHIELIZZ

1/19/2012 1:27:31 PM

Great tips! I definitely find letting the sun shine it to be true.

PLL109

1/19/2012 1:15:58 PM

PLL109's SparkPage
thanks for helpful tips.

YOGAANDBIKE

1/19/2012 12:47:55 PM

YOGAANDBIKE's SparkPage
I'm spinning and trying to pretend I'm biking outside.

FROSTEDVIEW

1/19/2012 12:04:54 PM

FROSTEDVIEW's SparkPage
Good ideas.....

130CARRIE

1/19/2012 10:43:08 AM

I also bought a $100 light for SAD at Costco a few years ago. The difference is incredible. I feel so much more alert and positive.

QUANPHUT

1/19/2012 10:35:01 AM

QUANPHUT's SparkPage
I typically fall victim to the "Winter Blues" This winter I've been reading a book about how the food you eat is related you your mood / overall wellness. It's really interesting and I don't know if it's directly related (I work out a more this year too) but I do notice myself being a lot happier after following some advice in the book. Although, I still need to get through February and March yet :)

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