So, there’s no nice way to say this, but we’re full blown into winter. Personally, it’s not my favorite time of year. And while there are those people out there (I think?) who thrive in the winter, many people find that the short, dark, cold days make their daily activities- not to mention their emotions- a little off-kilter.
These gloomy, frigid days don’t provide us with much, if any sunlight, and it’s very easy to hibernate for a few months on end. And while I’m all about cozying up on the couch during a blizzard, too much time indoors makes me go stir crazy. Unfortunately this isn’t the only symptom of being stuck indoors and without sunlight. For many of us it goes even further than just cabin fever. The lack of Vitamin D from sunlight, the short days, and the low temps can cause SADness or Season Affective Disorder. This is actually a very common disorder, and it can really take a toll on your body, mind, and emotions. SAD can cause depression, irritability, fatigue, low energy, weight gain, and a desire to want to seclude yourself from others. So, if you’re experiencing any (or all) or these symptoms, what to do?
Here are a few tips to help you beat, or at least manage, any SADness you might be feeling this winter:
1. Move your body. Now, I know it can be tough, and sometimes unbearable, to leave your house and make it to the gym or a studio during the winter months. But no worries! you CAN get in a good workout in the comfort of your own home. Practice some yoga (yogaglo.com is a great resource for online classes with awesome teachers!), get some weights and do a little strength training, check out some youtube videos (HIIT, Pilates, yoga, etc.), purchase a rebounder and get jumping (this is a great way to move that lymphatic -aka drainage- system). You get it. It doesn’t matter where or necessarily what you’re doing, just do something to help get your blood flowing, increase your heart rate, and maybe produce a little sweat.
2. Take a Vitamin D supplement. Most of us are deficient in this vitamin (I actually just found out that I’m really low and need to take a high dose to bump that up). Vitamin D is something we get from the sun, but between trying to avoid too much sunlight because of the negative side effects and the dark days of winter, your level is probably less than OK. Additionally, it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D from foods, so you’re best best is to take a supplement to fill in the gap. This will help improve those negative symptoms you might be experiencing such as fatigue and depression.
3. Make sure you’re having fun. It’s important all year round to have fun and enjoy life, but when you’re feeling blah and in a funk, having something fun to look forward to helps lift your spirits. Meet friends for dinner, incorporate a date night with your significant other, try out a new recipe, take a workout class that you like, read a good book that you’re excited to read. If you incorporate a little fun into each day it will make that day, and how you’re feeling, that much brighter.
4. Check the alcohol. No, I’m not saying you can’t have any (that would be hypocritical), but try to keep it to a minimum. Alcohol is a depressant, and if you’re already feeling low, waking up with a hangover is only going to make the situation SO much worse. Keep it in check, make healthy choices (red wine, vodka and club with some fresh lime) and hydrate…. which brings me to my next tip.
5. Drink up- the right stuff. I think that drinking water might be in every blog I’ve written. You may not believe me (but you should), but getting enough water for your body is EXTREMELY crucial. And I’m not talking a few cups… I mean like 60, 70, 80 ounces- or more! The better hydrated you are, the better you’ll feel and the more energy you’ll have. So go out and get a pretty water bottle that you’ll want to drink from, and drink up.
6. Sleep. There’s a reason that the seasons change, and it’s good to try and follow the rhythm of the sun. We all know right now the sun is setting pretty early… and so should you. Take advantage of these winter nights and get in bed earlier and really give your body the rest it needs. While we sleep our cells have a chance to restore and rejuvenate, so you need to give your body this time to repair itself. Getting enough sleep with also help with your mood and energy level the next day.
7. Practice meditation and breathing. Another one I’m passionate about. When your mind starts racing or you’re feeling under the weather, slow down, take a few deep belly breaths, and sit in stillness with yourself and your breath. No, you don’t need to do this for an hour a day- just 5 minutes. And if you sit still and shift your focus to your breath, you will begin to release those thoughts and feelings and feel a sense of calm and peace.
Do you have any tips to help beat the winter blues?