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 fret—you can feel better starting with these 10 tips!

Let the Sunshine In

Just because the weather is chilly, that doesn’t mean you can’t 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 sun’s 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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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.


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 :)


1/19/2012 9:29:48 AM

MJLCARMAN just a thought....my sister tended to get depressed with no sun for many days at a time in upstate NY with the same lake effect snows or clouds from Lake Ontario and found she was uplifted by going to a tanning booth a couple of times. I know they're not highly recommended but I'm sure if proper sunscreen is used, and you are cautious, getting the "sunlight" effect would help with the outlook as well. Good luck with the Spark adventure!


1/19/2012 9:04:53 AM

I agree!


1/19/2012 8:47:19 AM

Winters are horrid where we live. They always say to let the sun in the house to brighten it up. We do not see the sun in the winter. I live at the end of Lake Michigan where we not only get snow but also lake effect snow and if it is not snowing it is still cloudy. It was a rare sunny day yesterday but I am looking at snow out my window now and there is no sun in the next 10 day forecast. only makes me want to go back to bed until Spring. I try to exercise and keep busy but not really motivated. The main thing that would help with winter blues is to move to sunny AZ but that is not possible due to financial and family obligations. Will try some of their tips. It was a great article.


1/19/2012 8:40:43 AM

Good advice! Thanks!


1/19/2012 8:05:16 AM

MSTABER's SparkPage
I love singing to my favorit country artists so I crank it up in the car and go with it!


1/19/2012 6:40:53 AM

COONY12's SparkPage
When i have the winter blues, i play my favorite music cd's i turn it up loud and just start dancing . Makes me feel much better and i get a work out.


1/19/2012 6:11:49 AM

i live in a part of Mexico where winter is beautiful, so I really feel for you! What we have that effects me similarly is rainy season ... 5 months of constant rain and dark clouds all summer long. I have considered getting one of those lights, but I like these suggestions, too. I'll remember them when you all are having sunshine . . . that's when I'll be struggling!


1/14/2012 6:24:47 AM

Winter has hit Chicago hard--but we know what to do when the winds and snow assail us. We work out (smile). We keep things positive, reach for comedy movies and channels, and smile about the time we can be warm and toasty inside. sbb


1/10/2012 10:05:17 PM

winter is hard...thanks for the tips


12/10/2011 9:03:33 AM

SPECIALT108's SparkPage
I make a point to practice yoga almost every day and park far back in the parking lots when shopping.


1/10/2011 12:57:39 PM

FOXYBROWN11's SparkPage
Seasonal Affective Disorder can be related to the lack of sunlight during the winter months. Some people are actually treated with UV light therapy. The lack of sunlight can cause low vitamin D. I find that taking a vitamin D supplement (at least 2000 IU of cholecalciferol/day) helps with my winter blues.


1/5/2011 10:14:20 AM

ROBYN-ROSE's SparkPage
I love the "hunkering down" months of Jan, Feb March....April....part of May... there's a reason they call it the Great White North. Post Yule, I love getting the house back in order,cleaning out the storage rooms,and then having time to do my hobbies. I dollhouse. Even in a limited space, I can decorate and renovate to my hearts content. The sewing and needlework in 1/12 scale takes just as long as if I was doing it in full scale. Winter is a wonderful time for indoor interests. And best of all, I never feel guilty about not using the time out there pulling weeds :)


12/29/2010 11:58:48 AM

Thanks for the motivation, because old man winter really had me down the past 2 and half weeks. I am going to the gym today!

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