We’ve all experienced some degree of ‘the winter blues’, the feeling of low mood and a craving for sunshine and warmth. In today’s post I’m sharing 5 strategies for overcoming the winter blues.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about springtime. This post is a little bit late, seeing as we’re no longer in the depths of winter, but I wanted to share some tips on this topic anyways because this was a viewer request a few weeks ago.
I’m no stranger to the low mood that often accompanies long, drawn-out winters. I’ve been there. In years past I’ve had points where my mood is lower, usually come February. I feel a little darker, restless, and I crave warmth and the ability to go outside without a hundred layers of clothing on. This whole low-mood-thing is no joke, and there’s really something to say about how the world comes back to life in the spring, including us humans.
What are the Winter Blues?
You’ve probably heard this term before, and it refers to feelings of sadness or low mood during the winter months. Shorter days, less sunlight, and cold temperatures can make us really yearn for spring and summer.
Fortunately there are a few things we can do to try and mitigate the sadness that can ensue from enduring long winter months. Whether you’re in a bit of a rut, feeling down, or experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), here’s how to overcome the winter blues.
5 Strategies to Overcome the Winter Blues
1. Get Outside
Get outside, it’s as simple as that!
Now, I hear you though. If you’re here in Canada when there are -30C days, the last thing you want to do is go outside and it’s completely reasonable to stay cozy indoors. But on days when you can for even just 10 to 20 minutes, get outside! Nature has an undeniable uplifting power. Even if you’re feeling lazy about it, push yourself to go for a walk.
Getting outside not only can lift our mood through physical activity and connecting with nature, but it’s a surefire way for us to experience some bright daylight, even if there’s less of it during the winter months. Getting natural light each day, especially in the morning, supports our mood and our circadian rhythm.
If possible, scroll through a park or near a forest or body of water. Sit, breathe and just be in the stillness of nature. Nature can lift our spirits, ground us, and remind us that everything is okay.
2. Vitamin D
This fabulous vitamin is very important for mental health. Understandably, it’s not always as easy to obtain vitamin D in the winter months. We’re either not spending enough time in the sun (which is how we synthesize vitamin D) or we’re wearing a boatload of layers.
Vitamin D supports bone health, immune function, dry skin, and yes – mental health. If you’re experiencing SAD, consider seeing getting some blood work and be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner for the appropriate dose of supplemental vitamin D. The average person can generally take 1000-5000IU per day. I like this brand here.
3. Nourish Your Body
Years ago I experienced a severe depressive episode after a concussion and I remember the degree of apathy I felt. I didn’t care about much, I lost my spark for life, and I quickly discovered how easy it was to throw our health or proper eating habits out the window. But nourishing ourselves with nutrient dense foods that are colourful and rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients means we physically feel better by supporting our body, mentally feel better about ourselves, and benefit from the countless properties in whole foods that promote mood balance and energy.
Consider healthy fats like omega-3s found in fish, nuts, seeds and eggs. These are anti-inflammatory and support cognitive function and blood sugar regulation.
Better food = better digestion = better brain function because our gut and brain are very intricately connected.
Proper, restful, sleeping-through-the-night sleep is extremely important if you’re feeling low. I repeat: extremely important.
If you need some help to improve your sleep, check out these 7 tips. Winter is a weird time for sleep schedules. The days are shorter, it’s darker earlier, but one of the best things we can do is simply go to bed and wake up at same time each day to help maintain healthy sleep schedules and circadian rhythms. When we sleep restfully we reduce inflammation, allow our cells to regenerate, regulate our appetite (this means less cravings during the day), and set ourselves up for far better mood, reduced irritability and balances energy levels.
5. Positive Affirmations
I want to shed some light on the importance of speaking positively to ourselves. Our emotional state is very easily influenced by the things we say to ourselves. Happiness is often a choice, and there are steps we can take to improve how we feel.
Our thoughts directly impact our emotions, which in turn, impacts our actions. I don’t care how weird you think it is to repeat positive statements to yourself or if you don’t believe ’em, this is life changing stuff, I promise!
Tip: If you’re prone to negative self-talk or feeling low, write down positive statements around your room or where easily visible so you can be reminded. Check out my free downloadable Affirmations Guide. The more you say positive – or negative – phrases, the more you’ll believe them. Our mind believes what it’s repeatably being told.
I hope this post was helpful for you. If you have any questions or experiences to share, leave them below!