Health & Wellness Articles

10 Cool Ways to Embrace Winter

Mood-Boosting Ideas to Beat the Winter Blues

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Winter is in full force. As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, even the best of us can get a little down. The "winter blues" are characterized by the mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy that many people experience during this cold season. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to both prevent the blues from coming on and get yourself back to normal if they’re already here.

1. Exercise
As if we needed another reason to get fit! Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism with stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those "feel good chemicals" that improve your mood. 

2. Eat a Healthy Diet
What and when you eat has a great affect on your mood and energy. Avoid refined and processed foods (like white breads, rice, and sugar). These foods are not only devoid of the nutrients your body craves, but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood—causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Try to incorporate more complex carbohydrates (whole wheat breads, brown rice, veggies, fruit) and get your daily 8 cups of water. These healthy foods provide your body (and mind) with nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels. 

3. Get Some Sun
Most people know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D. But did you know that it also improves your mood? Winter days are shorter and darker than other months, and because of the cold weather, a lot of people spend less and less time outdoors. Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed—without knowing why! Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outdoors.  Keep your shades up during the day to let more light in. Sit near windows in restaurants and during class. Try changing the light bulbs in your house to "full spectrum" bulbs. These mimic natural light and actually have the same affects on your mind as the real thing. 

4. Act on your Resolutions
A recent study from the CDC showed a strong link between healthy behaviors and depression. Women who exhibited healthy behaviors (like exercising, not smoking, etc.) had less sad and depressed days than those whose behaviors were less than healthy. Although researchers studied women, the results are likely similar in men. 
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • ARADWAN
    Thanks for this article . iam very love winter

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    My site : http://www.al3aby
    .com - 12/15/2015 11:48:38 AM
  • I love winter, it is my favorite season. I can't wait for the snow to come, I enjoy the cooler temperatures to exercise outside. It is just my absolute favorite time of the year! - 12/7/2015 7:04:48 AM
  • Thanks for this article. The photo inspired me too - I think a nice, warm, red shirt would be like wearing a hug and cheer me up - I'm going to see if I can find one.
    - 12/6/2015 12:20:19 PM
  • I agree with KARINCLEAVES on this one. These things certainly help, as does my broad spectrum light, but chasing the sun (and warmer climes) seems like the preferable response / plan.
    Steven - 12/6/2015 11:49:17 AM
  • KARINCLEAVES
    Great ideas, but I still say moving south is the best way to deal with winter. - 12/5/2015 12:49:34 AM
  • SELF-ACTUALIZED
    Great reminders - thank you for posting - 2/2/2015 7:53:09 PM
  • I wish I could walk normally again but because of spinal osteoarthritis I walk a little ways almost every day but not like I used to but then again I am 70yrs old now and my health is not as good as it was even a few years ago.I used to get excited about the coming day now everyday is just like the last,what saves me is my love of creation and I am a fairly good artist and do love making my jewelry and will probably buy another kiln so I can return to being a potter which I miss.Right now we are just renting but hope to buy another home next year.Depression is a problem for both DH and myself.I do exercise every day on my elliptical and may start working out with other exercise equiptment. Walking every eve.after I do my elliptical helps me even if it is only around my short block. - 12/24/2013 3:24:15 PM
  • I had surgery late last fall and my surgeon told me that as part of the recovery, I needed to walk outside EVERY day. And so I do, even if it is cloudy. I think that being outside and the (hopefully) fresh air is important. I especially make it a point to take advantage of the days when the sun is out...even if it is cold. - 12/24/2013 1:10:17 PM
  • Overall, good suggestions but the part about sleeping is a little contradictory. Under the Relax paragraph it says to sleep in on the weekend but the last section on sleep says to get up at the same time. Getting up at the same time is the generally accepted suggestion.
    - 12/24/2013 12:45:26 PM
  • I love to walk in the winter as long as know snow around. Great aarticle. - 10/7/2013 10:32:19 AM
  • Finding time to walk outdoors when the sun is shining has always been a part of my winter strategy for staying up in the winter.. but not taking on more than I am able to accomplish is another... Full spectrum lights on my desk really helps too...
    High spirits... - 12/18/2012 12:43:59 PM
  • I still love going for a walk in the winter if its not too cold and if its a crisp , sunny day. - 8/10/2011 8:31:10 PM
  • KAKIPOPUP
    And celebrate the snow, if you live in a climate that supports snow - it reflects the available sunlight and improves your mood - get out and walk, ski, snowshoe, ice skate on a pond surrounded by snow - just make sure to protect your eyes from the reflected rays -

    I love the snow! - 2/25/2011 8:50:32 AM
  • This is a terrific article! Thank you for reminding me of all these great helpers when I get SAD. I do take issue with one statement, though: " the CDC showed... Women who exhibited healthy behaviors (like exercising, not smoking, etc.) had less sad and depressed days than those whose behaviors were less than healthy". If you are feeling sad or depressed, you are not going to be motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle. So, the cause and effect might be backwards, or the CDC could have misinterpreted their findings. It's all subjective, isn't it? Anyway, I use a soft lamp on a timer to help wake me up in these darker winter months. It really helps! - 1/30/2011 3:17:35 PM
  • Great article...so many choices! For me, my favorite is taking the snowshoes out on the local golf course. Did that this past Sunday for sixty minutes and it was exhilarating! - 1/18/2011 8:33:11 PM

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