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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MEADHER

11/24/2010 2:00:58 PM

I suffer from SAD, and last year I purchased a 10,000 lux light for $200. It is one of the best purchases I've made, and really helps get me through the winter. I use it every night for a half hour, as per the instructions. I was a little skeptical, but have really noticed a difference in how I feel throughout the northeast winters.

CR8822

11/24/2010 9:22:16 AM

CR8822's SparkPage
great article

ALYVNWELL

11/23/2010 9:00:12 PM

ALYVNWELL's SparkPage
great article!

BEHAPPI63

11/23/2010 7:37:15 PM

BEHAPPI63's SparkPage
I have a small income tax business, so I am strapped to a chair sitting behind a desk from after Christmas until the end of February. Very long 12-18 hour days, 7 days a week. Often I get only a few hours sleep a night. During that time, I basically live in my office, and do not see outdoors. If the weather is bad, I just sleep at the office. For me winter passes by very quickly and is hardly noticed.That's a good thing! BUT it is hard to eat healthy, and many meals skipped as well as I am lucky to get a1000 steps in a day. March through May I will make it a point to get some exercise, but I will have to pay an employee to cover the office so I can take a short walks or maybe work out in a gym..if I join one. I don't care what winter does, just let me know when it's over.

OOKPIK37

11/23/2010 5:48:29 PM

OOKPIK37's SparkPage
It's been -20C to -25C where I live for the past week, and I find it very hard to leave the house again once I've come home from work. When the weather gets this cold and I know that I'm not going to want to go out, I make sure that I stop at the gym on my way home from work...that way, once I'm home, I'm home for the night! I definitely go into hibernation mode, and I find it very difficult to stay motivated. I just want to get home and into my fuzzy pj's.

JANIE621

11/23/2010 4:17:49 PM

JANIE621's SparkPage
In an apartment for the first time in 40 years. My first winter after losing my husband, serious loss of income, but I take heart in the fact that like all of the seasons, this one will fly by and soon I'll be sewing spring clothing instead of sweats and flannel pajamas.

RUTGERSM0M

11/23/2010 3:03:14 PM

RUTGERSM0M's SparkPage
I am suffer from SAD. Thank you so much for this article.

SMITHANI

11/23/2010 2:48:27 PM

SMITHANI's SparkPage
Thanks

SUEMBRENNAN

11/23/2010 10:55:01 AM

SUEMBRENNAN's SparkPage
Thanks for all the great ideas to keep SAD at bay. I have suffered from this for years as I
live in a city with some of the highest levels of rainfall. As much as I like the clean air after a good rain it leaves my brain dull. I agree, exercise has always been my best defense against the winter blues.

ABERLAINE

11/23/2010 8:11:31 AM

ABERLAINE's SparkPage
I, too, live in upstate New York where the winters seem longer and the sun hardly shines. I take extra vitamin D and sit in front of a light box if things get too bad.

I also find that February is my worst month. By then I'm real tired of winter, but spring is still months away.

CHERRYMYERS

11/23/2010 7:34:14 AM

CHERRYMYERS's SparkPage
Winters are loooong in Buffalo and sometimes the sun doesn't shine for days. Because of the low light it seems the region is blanketed with a low grade depression. How you handle this is key. Lots of regular exercise (ever try walking in the snow - not only beautiful but quite the workout!), avoid isolation, eating healthy, and taking vit. D are a must . Indulge in activities that you derive pleasure from that you may not have time for in the summer when you want to be outdoors. Having special activities or projects reserved for this time of year may turn the dread of winter around to a time of year you actually look forward too. So light the fire, put the soup on, Knit that sweater, have a slumber party and take advantage of the upside of winter.

TOMNJERI

11/23/2010 6:59:15 AM

TOMNJERI's SparkPage
I seem to get through the winter months with the exception of Feb. By then, all the holidays and preparations for them are over and it seems everything is sooo quiet. The days are so short and I'm looking forward to Spring which seems to take forever. I try to keep on a schedule and allot certain times for my painting/drawing/ but get easily distracted. I have to admit that my exercise routines are a little more structured during these times.

COOLPOODLE

11/23/2010 6:31:34 AM

COOLPOODLE's SparkPage
December 21st is my favorite day of the year because the days start getting longer!!!! For some reason the short nights seem to come so quickly in the fall now. Perhaps it's just a matter of better adjusting to the new Dst end.

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