As we work our way through the winter months, many of us struggle to maintain a positive outlook. The season's cold, dark conditions can put a serious damper on your mood, and you might find yourself feeling gloomy more often than not as the snowy days drag on. This condition is so common that it has a specific name: Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to improve your mood if you’re feeling down during these dreary months. Here are five simple tactics for beating the midwinter blues.
Keep Things Light & Bright: Doctors have identified a lack of natural light as one of the most common triggers for seasonal depression during the winter months. If you work a standard 9 to 5 schedule, your routine may include almost no exposure to natural sunlight during winter’s short days. Try to find time for at least a few minutes outdoors during the brightest hours of the day, or rearrange your morning routine to spend more time in a space that receives lots of natural light. You can also supplement your daily dose of sun using a light therapy box, which is specially designed to mimic the effects of natural sunlight on your brain.
Bundle Up & Take a Walk: If you live in a cold climate, you’re likely inclined to avoid the great outdoors during the winter months. However, a daily walk can be a healthy, natural remedy for seasonal mood changes. Try to incorporate at least 20 minutes of walking into your daily schedule, no matter how cold the weather. You’ll enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of exercise, and soak in a few extra minutes of precious sunlight.
Start a New Hobby: If you’re a lover of all things pop culture, you already know that winter is prime binge-watching season. It’s easy to zone out on the couch during the colder months, but trading Netflix for a fresh hobby could have serious benefits for your mental health. This winter, try something new: take a different class at the gym, start a book club with friends, or finally learn to knit. A new hobby keeps your mind active and offers something to look forward to, both important factors in maintaining good mental health.
Take Your Vitamins: A lack of sun exposure during the winter months can lead to a deficiency in Vitamin D, which our bodies produce when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine; B vitamins, Omega 3s, and Vitamin C are also key nutrients to support your mood and overall well-being during the winter. As an added benefit, these essential vitamins boost your immune system, keeping you healthier during cold and flu season.
Embrace Hygge: No one knows how to handle winter quite like the residents of Scandinavia; in fact, the citizens of Denmark have developed a special term for their way to beat the winter blues: hygge. Hygge is defined as “a quality of coziness…that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” During the winter months, Danes cultivate this feeling with lots of crackling fires, soft candlelight, homemade treats, and time with friends—essentially, all things warm and cozy. So if you’re still feeling a little blue, consider settling in with a mug of cocoa and a good book for some much-needed hygge therapy as you wait for spring.
What are your favorite ways to make the coldest months fly by? Share your best techniques for beating the winter blues in the comments!
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