It’s that magical time of the year where the temperature drops, the sun goes down, and suddenly we’re all a little sadder than we were a couple of weeks ago.
We don’t blame ourselves, we blame the sun.
Having less sunlight in our lives lowers our levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Lower levels of serotonin can cause depression. Less sunlight also contributes to a higher production of melatonin—the hormone that makes us feel sleepy and wants to lay around all day.
Before we peace out under an oversized blanket until spring 2022, let’s try a few tips to help our bodies combat the winter blues.
1. Limit sugar consumption.
Yes, there are sugar plums, candy canes, and fresh-baked cookies everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we need to try all of them! Consuming too much sugar can drastically slow down our brains, and if we’re eating too much every day, it can plague our whole winter with fatigue.
Eating one or two obviously won’t kill you, but making the holidays all about sweets is an easy way to bring on the depression.
2. Eat mood-boosting foods instead.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help people going through a depression spurt. (The jury is still out on how helpful they can be to people with more stubborn, chronic depression.)
Some good things to prepare would be fish (especially cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna), walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, whole grains, and leafy greens.
3. Take more supplements.
Sometimes, the foods from above just don’t sound appetizing on a chilly day. In those cases, try taking supplements instead. Here’s how each kind can help keep the blues at bay…
- Omega-3: Supports brain health, hormone-producing glands, and mood regulation.
- Vitamin D: Boosts our mood and supports bone health.
- Vitamin B6: Helps produce serotonin and dopamine.
- Vitamin B12: Helps mood regulation.
- Vitamin B9: Supports production and regulation of serotonin.
- Magnesium: Supports higher serotonin levels and relaxes blood vessels to ease anxiety.
4. Fit in a daily workout.
It’s certainly not easy to get up before sunrise or stay out when it’s dark just to break a sweat. Although this is imperative to beat the winter blues.
Exercise releases a ton of mood-boosting chemicals in our bodies. One of which is endorphins, which help combat stress, anxiety, and depression. Plus, if we set and reach goals during our workout, we could also get a hit of dopamine, also known as the “pleasure” hormone.
5. Give in to a little holiday cheer every now and then.
Instead of returning home feeling sluggish, let’s use our newfound energy from the gym to get in the holiday spirit! Decorate the entire house, get ahead on gift-wrapping, or watch a classic holiday movie.
It always feels good to help others, so consider putting together a bag of warm clothes to donate or baking cookies to share with neighbors!
6. Get outside as much as possible.
Our daily workout doesn’t have to be as boring as a trip to the gym. Make it fun by going snowboarding or skiing! For families with kids, try starting a snowball fight or building a snowman together.
Getting outside and soaking up as much sun as possible is imperative this time of year. Plus, nothing feels better than coming back inside to a cup of hot cocoa.
7. Put lion’s mane in your coffee.
(I promise it’s not cat hair.) Lion’s mane is a kind of mushroom that has been shown to reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has even been shown to help repair nerve damage.
Lion’s mane in powdered form is quickly growing in popularity, so you should be able to find a bag at a supplement shop or natural grocery store near you. Adding a serving to your coffee can help start your day on a calm and collected note.
If these subtle lifestyle changes don’t seem to help your mood, please consider counseling. Together, we can come up with an in-depth treatment plan made specifically for you. Contact me soon for a safe and confidential consultation.