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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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