With daylight savings time ending and the needle on the temperature dial getting lower and lower, it’s common for people to be feeling more down than usual. I know I’ve experienced it recently, and if you have too, keep reading. For this post, I’m focusing more on overall wellness rather than specifically nutrition. I want to share with you a few things that have really helped me and others with combatting winter blues. I was inspired to look into this when I read a few other blog posts on the subject (here and here) and I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of helpful tips out there!
1. Don’t Spent Too Much Time Alone
Around this time of year, it usually seems like a great idea to just stay indoors with your favorite TV show and avoid the brisk winter air. But the truth is, being around other people is a great way to prevent feelings of seasonal depression. When I spend too much time alone, I start to feel off and not like myself. But I’ve noticed that the second I’m around a close friend, I feel so much better and I’m back to my loud, chatty self.
2. Spend Time in Natural Daylight
Even though it’s chilly, fall and winter have so many beautiful things to offer. It’s important to remind yourself of that by stepping outside and taking it all in every once in a while. Going outside will also help you get some Vitamin D, which most Americans don’t get enough of. Those with higher Vitamin D levels are thought to have fewer incidence of chronic disease and mental illness. Not only is it important to get Vitamin D, but being in the sunlight can just generally improve mood. Even if this just means opening up your blinds and letting the sunlight into your home or office, small changes can make a big difference.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
This time of year, all I want to eat is oatmeal, chicken noodle soup, or grilled cheese. Anything warm and comforting. While these are all good options to enjoy, it’s important to make sure your meals are balanced and nutrient-dense. You’ll have more energy and just feel better overall.
4. Don’t Skimp on Exercising
Just because it’s too cold to do your workout outside doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. This is something that I definitely struggle with during the colder months. When I wake up and it’s freezing, the only thing I want to do is get back under my covers. But while this may seem like the best option at the time, you’re much better off getting a workout in. Exercise has been shown to help with depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins, distracting us from worry, and improving confidence. So next time you’re thinking about crawling back into bed instead of heading to the gym, think about what would really be best for you in the long run. (Hint: it’s probably going to the gym.)
5. Keep Your Sleep Schedule Consistent
Generally, my body clock is on top of things and I go to sleep and wake up at pretty much exactly the same times every day. But recently, I experienced what it’s like when my sleep schedule is off, and it was horrible. Over a weekend, I was up sick all night and wasn’t able to fall asleep until around 8:30am the next morning. I slept until about 6:00pm later that night and, by the time I woke up, it was completely dark and I felt like I had missed the whole day. It was honestly really depressing. Obviously the situation won’t always be this extreme. But even a few hours difference can have an effect on your mood. On the other hand, while it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you also want to be sure not to get too much sleep, as this can also worsen symptoms of seasonal depression.
6. Keep Yourself Busy
Go out to eat with friends! Go ice skating! Start a DIY project! Plan a trip! Doing things like this to keep your mind occupied is so much better than doing mindless things like watching TV for hours. I feel a lot better when I’ve accomplished something or spent time with others than when I’ve just wasted a few hours of my life doing nothing by myself. Planning things like a trip or a future project can give you things to look forward to and lift your spirits!
7. Try to Manage Your Stress
Emphasis on the word “try” because obviously managing stress is much easier said than done. But even trying can make all the difference. Try to understand what in your life is stressing you out and work on it. Personally, I know that I need alone time to just be, and when I don’t get that, I get extremely overwhelmed. Just little observations like this can help a lot. It’s all about knowing what triggers your stress and knowing what you need to combat it.
8. Limit Time on Social Media
This should kind of be an all-the-time thing, but it’s especially important when trying to keep the winter blues at bay. Social media has been shown to increase feelings of depression and loneliness, so obviously this is something we want to minimize, especially during this season.
9. Surround Yourself With Vibrant Colors
This one may sound a little bit crazy, but it really does help. Keeping things like flowers or bright picture frames around can be very uplifting. It can also be fun to add some color to your dark fall and winter outfits. This is something that I personally have found really boosts my mood. My apartment is filled with bright pictures, encouraging messages, and other decorations and it really does make a difference!
10. Focus on Gratitude
Lastly, just try to always keep a positive attitude. It can make a huge impact on your mood if you are constantly reminding yourself of all the blessings in your life, rather than always focusing on the negative. Personally, I have so so much to be thankful for. Yet there are still times when I find myself in a horrible mood because I’m so concentrated on everything bad that’s ever happened to me in my life. I guarantee that each and every single person reading this post has lots of people that love and care about you. Just remind yourself of that when you’re feeling down, and you’ll feel better.
If you find yourself feeling a little bit more down than usual this season, you’re not alone! Try some of these helpful hacks and you’ll start feeling better right away.