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The winter blues are a common ailment. You may notice that you have less energy and motivation during the winter months. After the long days of summer and all the time spent outdoors, it’s no wonder many people suffer from these symptoms when they move into darker months and are forced to stay indoors.
I’m fortunate enough to live in the amazing city of Miami where the sun shines all year round and the days don’t get as short in the winter as they do further north, but I do still notice a difference in my overall wellbeing when the sun starts to set early. In fact, I almost moved to Norway during my college years, but during the middle of winter they only get about six hours of daylight – it’s just not enough!
If you’re struggling with the winter blues, then you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a recognised medical condition but even if you don’t have the fully fledged condition, people all around the world struggle as the weather gets cold and the nights draw in. Let’s take a look at the best ways to beat the winter blues this year.
Whether it’s a walk around the block or going for a hike in nature, you need to get outside more. The great thing about winter is that there are still plenty of things to do outdoors such as skiing and snowboarding (if you’re lucky enough) but if not, then simple morning walks will do wonders. The important thing is to get outside as much as possible even if it’s just for a short period of time every day and you’ll notice your mood lifting quickly. Exposure to sunlight releases serotonin in the brain, so sunlight quite literally makes us happy.
It might be cold but make sure that you move more this winter than the last. We all know how good exercise is for us, and it’s especially good for beating the winter blues. Regular exercise increases energy and produces endorphins, aka “feel good” hormones, so try to fit in a couple of workouts each week. It doesn’t matter if you run, swim, lift weights or practice yoga, so long as you’re moving your body. You don’t need a gym either – there are lots of great home workouts online. Take a look at this guide to the best workout apps to find out more.
Sometimes it seems like there’s no way out of the winter blues, but that’s where light therapy lamps come in handy! They can give you a much-needed extra dose of sunshine. If my mood is low I’ll turn mine on for about 30 minutes each day to help boost my energy levels and beat the winter blues. Light therapy lamps are especially useful for those with jobs that leave them unable to get out in the daylight when the days are short. If you struggle to get up in the morning, you can even get a light therapy alarm clock to wake you up, putting a new spin on the term “rise and shine.”
Helping others is one of the best ways to make us feel good about ourselves. If you’re in a position where your work involves helping people, then this will be easy for you, but even if not there are still plenty of opportunities out there. Volunteering doesn’t have to mean spending hours every week – it could just mean helping to wash the dishes at a local homeless shelter, for example – but even that can make you feel great about yourself and more connected to your community.
No, I’m not recommending emotional eating! The winter blues can be exacerbated by a bad diet and it’s important to eat as healthy as possible this time of year. Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, brown rice and oats are key for keeping your mood high, so try eating more foods like these instead of simple carbs like white bread or pasta.
You should also make sure that you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body needs in order to create serotonin. Pineapple, bananas and tomatoes contain high levels of tryptophan.
Of course, you don’t have to cut out all treats this winter but just make sure that they aren’t the bulk of your diet. You’ll definitely feel better if you’re taking proper care of yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard of ASMR by now, but in case you haven’t it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a known phenomenon where sounds like whispering or tapping can trigger body tingles and feelings of well-being. There are lots of great YouTube channels that feature these videos, so try watching some of them before bed to help yourself relax and drift off, or when you’re feeling low and are in need of some comfort. It’s an increasingly popular remedy to help beat the winter blues.
Vitamin D is known as the winter vitamin because we all need more of it when the weather gets cold and days are shorter. It’s produced in our skin when we’re out in the sun, but during winter months this doesn’t happen for long enough each day to help us meet our requirements. Studies have linked a lack of vitamin D to depression, so if you don’t spend much time outside in the winter, then you probably need to take a supplement.
Many people think of meditation as something that’s just for hippies or mindfulness geeks but it can actually be very practical and is certainly worth considering if you want to beat the winter blues. Meditation has been shown to increase serotonin, which is why it’s so effective at reducing depression. If you’re new to meditation, then try downloading a guided meditation app onto your phone or tablet and practicing for just 5 minutes each day.
For more on caring for your mental health, take a look at:
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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