Do you often experience sadness and tiredness during winter? It is a common mood experience called winter blues, and you’re not alone because 25 million Americans also experience this. But how can you fight the winter blues?
The cold, gloomy, shorter winter days make most of us experience sadness, tiredness, and moodiness. One contributing factor is the reduced level of sunlight that disrupts your body’s internal clock, leading to mood changes. And even if you are a naturally happy person with no history of depression, the winter season can still affect you.
How to Fight the Winter Blues
Since you cannot change the weather and the amount of daylight during winter, you can still lessen symptoms of winter blues. Here are some techniques that you can try:
Stay Physically Active
Exercising during winter is probably the last thing you want to do because the cold weather makes you unmotivated to get up and work out. However, exercising is exactly what you should do to banish your winter blues and help your mind and body function. Don’t believe us? Here are the reasons why exercising can help you feel better this winter season.
- Moving your body helps build muscles, burn calories, and make body heat, and this makes you stay a lot warmer these cold winter days.
- A good sweat session helps release feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins that boost your mood and reduce depression.
- Physical activities combat depression and anxiety and will make you feel a lot more positive and less stressed.
- Exercising boosts your immune system and prevents illness. In fact, studies found out that exposure to cold weather negatively affects a person’s immune response. One factor is that many people get less vitamin D due to reduced sun exposure during winter.
How to Workout in Colder Weather
The winter months can be tough for some people, thus, they put their fitness routine on hold. But don’t let the chilly weather stop you. Try these fitness tips to ward off the winter blues and stay warm and fit.
Find an exercise partner
Exercising with a partner, even virtually, gives you an extra push to get moving, as shown in research.
Work out in the middle of the day
A midday workout can help boost your energy level, improve your mood and productivity.
Change into exercise clothes
This simple action is actually a psychological strategy, also called enclothed cognition, which proposes that what you wear affects what you think and your. Thus, when you change into your exercise clothes, you become more motivated to exercise.
Do warm up exercises before working out
Perform simple stretches to get the blood flowing to your muscles and joints before putting on your cold-weather layers and workout.
Invest in home gym equipment
Set a goal
Every workout is more efficient with specific and measurable goals. Having the right goal makes your workout sessions more focused and meaningful.
Get some light therapy
One of the reasons that cause winter blues and mood change is the lack of sun exposure. The sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D, which helps the body maintain higher levels of serotonin during the winter.
Serotonin is considered a mood stabilizer. It is a chemical that helps improve digestion, regulate anxiety, prevent osteoporosis, and makes you happier, calmer, and more focused. So what can you do to get enough sunlight? Here are some valuable tips.
- Try light therapy lamps because these simulate sunlight and can treat depression, anxiety, jet lags, insomnia, and sleeplessness. You can find the best light therapy lamps for your winter blues needs through this link.
- Do your physical activities outdoors or by the window. The American Institute of Stress revealed that being outside can improve physical, emotional, and mental health. And combining spending time outdoors with physical activities restores your attention, creativity, and your desire to do more. As a result, your mind and spirit are recharged.
- Get out as much as you can. You start by taking morning walks, even for just 15 minutes.
Allow more sun into your space by ditching your thick and heavy drapes. Doing so will also help regulate your circadian rhythm and reboot your sleep-wake cycle.
Eat a healthy diet
Food makes us feel happy and gives us the nutrition that we need. According to research, diet influences mood and mental wellbeing, and unhealthy eating habits result in mood swings. It can be tempting to eat fattening and sweet comfort foods during winter, but it will only exacerbate winter blues symptoms and, worse, lead to weight gain. Therefore, you should choose a healthy diet that regulates your mood.
One of the best diets to reduce depression symptoms is by increasing the amount of vitamin D in your meals. As mentioned earlier, low levels of vitamin D is linked to depression. Foods high in vitamin D include red meat, oily fish, fortified foods, egg yolks, and liver.
Vitamin B, especially B9, B6, and B12, all play an important role in helping to regulate mood.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 supports serotonin regulation. These foods are legumes, eggs, asparagus, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamin B6 helps the central nervous system and metabolism. It turns the food you eat into energy and creates neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. Food sources of vitamin B6 include banana, tofu, potatoes, beef liver, fortified foods, salmon, rice, and spinach.
Lastly, vitamin B12 also plays a vital role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin and your go-to vitamin for a surge of energy. Some foods that are very high in vitamin B12 are clams, sardines, beef, milk, and other dairy products.
Magnesium deficiency directly impacts mood because of the lower levels of serotonin. Taking magnesium stabilizes melatonin and serotonin chemicals, which regulate your mood. Magnesium-rich foods include avocados, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, and dark chocolates.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet and a variety of good mood foods ensures that you get the proper nutrients that support your overall wellbeing.
Wear Bright Colors
Did you know that colors can brighten up your mood, affect your mental health, and impact the way you feel? If you are familiar with color psychology, then you will understand how colors influence your emotions. And if you’re not familiar with this, here’s a run-down of color psychology and how it can alter your tinter blues mood.
What is Color Psychology?
Color psychology studies how colors affect a human’s psychological reactions, mood, and impression of others, and certain colors evoke motivation, inspiration and elevate a person’s feelings. So here are some colors you can wear to amp up your mood.
Blue is associated with the clear sea and sky, representing tranquility, stability, and security, which is a positive thing if you want to be calm and stabilize your emotions and others.
Green helps create a balance between you and others and stabilizes and harmonizes your emotions. Also, this color encourages a peaceful mood because it is restful in the eyes and produces less eye strain, making you feel refreshed and optimistic.
Yellow is associated with the sun’s rays. This color vibrates happiness, joy and stimulates mental clarity and inspiration. Because it is the boldest color on the color wheel, it ignites excitement and creativity.
Orange, like yellow, is an extremely bright and warm color, like summer sunsets. It makes you feel more adventurous, happy, and excited. Orange is not as aggressive as red, but there’s nothing plain about this color, so expect to be the center of attention when you wear this color.
Red is an energizer color. It ignites emotions such as passion, excitement, and desire. You will feel courageous and strong. It also increases metabolism and raises blood pressure.
Make your environment brighter
A well-lit room can intensify emotions and improve depression and anxiety, especially during the long days of winter. On the other hand, a room with low light doesn’t remove negative emotions; rather, it keeps the emotions steady, leading to feeling unmotivated.
In addition, it decreases the level of melatonin, a hormone that our brain produces in response to darkness and helps with the timing of our body clock. When this is interrupted, it impacts our psychological functioning, including sleeping and thinking clearly. Continuous disruption can increase our risk of developing illness and depression.
Shine some light in your room and improve your mood by following these pro tips.
Install dimmer lights
Since bright lights intensify our emotions and it sometimes gets the best of us, installing dimmer lights around your home keeps your feelings at a steady level.
Replace blue lights with red lights
Blue light can be seen in fluorescent lights and computer screens. Unfortunately, research shows that blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin in our brain, making it difficult to fall asleep. Installing red-tone lights, like amber or yellow, will help produce sleep hormones and give you a more restful sleep.
Use circadian lighting
Investing in circadian lighting is a good option. The lighting system’s concept uses electric light to mimic the sun’s normal light path. Some circadian lighting has an option to transition its brightness as the day progresses and reduces its intensity in the evening. There is also an option to change the color tuning from cooler color temperature to warmer color temperature. Circadian lightning can also replace “bad blue” with “good blue” light wavelength during the evening to limit melatonin suppression.
Install windows or skylights
We mentioned earlier that sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D that helps boost our mood. Find places in your home where you spend most of your time in the daytime and install a window or a skylight. Your windows are the best tools available to make you feel good in your home environment.
It is important that you use light to boost your mood to keep your circadian rhythms working well, especially in the winter months.
Winter blues not only affects your mood but can also take a toll on your health. Unfortunately, we cannot change the season, but you can choose and take action to minimize its symptoms by learning how to fight the winter blues.
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