10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

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10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Written by Natalie Nichols, Staff Writer

Do you start feeling tired and depressed once fall rolls around? Perhaps you experience mood swings once the seasons start to change. If you have these symptoms you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that strikes people during the colder months of the year. But don't fret—you can feel better starting with these 10 tips!

Let the Sunshine In

Just because the weather is chilly, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some sunshine. Simply opening the blinds or lifting the shades at home and the office can turn the seasonal grumps into smiles and cheer. If you are able, try sitting under skylights or near larger windows and bask in the sun’s glow even more.

Take Up a Winter Sport

It is human nature to want to stay warm and cozy when it is blustery cold outside. But why not take advantage of the fun sports only winter can bring? Grab some friends, the fam, or go solo as you ski, ice skate and snowboard away the winter blues. Not only will you feel happier, but you will get fit in the process.

Exercise Regularly

Cold weather surely can tempt you to want to curl up on the couch in your sweats with a soothing cup of hot cocoa in hand. But what happened to your favorite group fitness class at the gym? Remember that exercise releases feel-good endorphins that boost your mood. Exercising regularly will also help you burn excess calories and won't leave you with a sugar crash later on.

Cut the Comfort Food

It seems easier said than done (especially during holiday months), but you don't need to indulge in fatty sweets and fried, calorie-ridden comfort foods in order to feel contentment or happiness. Yes, comfort food can bring back a sense of nostalgia but healthy meals containing whole grains, fruits, veggies and plenty of water will provide your brain and your body with nutrients and give you a much needed energy boost.

Find Your Inner Yogi

Mind-body techniques such as yoga can help alleviate seasonal depression symptoms. You don't have to be a seasoned yoga master or the most flexible person in the world to enjoy the mental health benefits of yoga. Simple poses such as child's pose will help relax your nervous system and clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and stress.

Avoid Uppers and Downers

Much like comfort foods, alcohol and coffee can both be tempting to consume while you aren't feeling your best during winter months. Yes, coffee can give you an instant jolt which may sound like a good idea at the time, but once that caffeine high wears off, you will find yourself more tired than before. And though a nice glass of wine can help calm your nerves and ease your mind, drinking too much alcohol will leave you feeling down in the dumps. For a comforting drink without the drugs, try a mug of steamed milk instead.

Manage Stress with a Massage

Aside from relieving tension in your muscles, a relaxing massage can give you peace of mind. So, take time out for you and get a short, inexpensive 15-minute massage (or a longer one if you can!) and start reducing stress and anxiety. You can even use a foam roller for self-massage at home. You will feel more alert, blissfully rejuvenated and of course, happier.

Maintain a Consistent Schedule

Waking up and heading to bed at consistent times every day will not only help you get a good night's sleep, but will keep you on track with your exercise and healthy eating goals. This is especially true during colder months when the sun sets earlier and rises later. Resist the urge to hibernate and set the alarm for an early wake-up call. Productivity will make you feel good.

Plan a Vacation

Before winter rolls around, consider planning a vacation to a warmer climate. This will give you something to look forward to during the colder months and, in turn, will put you in better spirits. Even if you can only get away for a weekend, the warmth of the sun and relaxation of the surf will keep your seasonal depression symptoms at bay.

Get Out and Be Social

When you aren't feeling your best it can be very difficult to leave the house, let alone socialize. But being antisocial can actually make you feel more depressed and alone. Getting outside to hang out, chat and laugh with your friends can bring you much needed stress relief and put you in a joyous state. At the very least, just grab your boots and trek through the snow to a neighbor's house for a welcoming change of scenery.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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12/20/2016 12:28:25 PM

KRISZTA11's SparkPage
Blue light therapy is very helpful too!
I use my lamp since 2011, from November to early March - and never had seasonal depression ever since!


11/26/2016 1:53:16 AM

RITA1956's SparkPage
Don't wait until you're down for the count to ask for help.


1/13/2015 2:30:58 PM

I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder which includes a sundry of depressive and anxiety issues. Cold weather / The Holiday Season in particular gets me down; sometimes, to the point it feels as though all of my medications have stopped working. I find a good multivitamin and regular exercise help. The best results have come from weekly visits w/my Psychologist. Deep breathing/meditation works wonders. It takes a little practice but the benefits of being able to relax and clear your mind of everything is an indescribable feeling. Best wishes for those of you who suffer from depression, anxiety or SAD.


1/13/2015 10:39:55 AM

KRILL14's SparkPage
For a comforting drink I like chamomile tea.


1/13/2015 4:12:30 AM

Child's pose is about the only yoga pose I do where there is a mind-body connection and I can de-stress and relax in!


1/13/2015 4:09:39 AM

If I really need those comfort foods of winter, there are plenty of great low-calorie versions in SparkReceipes!


1/13/2015 4:07:29 AM

I forgot about those exercise endorphins that should make a blue me turn into a happier me when I'm depressed and don't want to work out!


1/13/2015 4:04:13 AM

Last summer, we covered all our windows with styrofoam to help keep out the Texas heat. Unfortunately, we also kept out the sunshine! Our house was very dark and a virtual dungeon. By winter, I couldn't stand it anymore, for yes, I became very depressed and I don't think covering the windows really helped much with our electric bill! So, now we know, and won't be repeating the same mistake this summer! NEED THAT SUNSHInE!


12/1/2013 12:27:29 PM

1LAZYCOOK's SparkPage
Those suggestions almost makes me want to move somewhere that has more snow! Almost. I live in the south and we don't get a lot of snow but it's still plenty cold for me. Most of this list wouldn't really work for me. I do try to walk outdoors several times a week. But if it's too cold, wet or windy, that drives me indoors!


9/22/2013 4:17:30 PM

I hate cold winter weather and would prefer to hibernate, but last year I made it a point to get out almost every day for at least 30 minutes, or longer if my schedule permitted. Even if it is cold or gloomy, I think that the fresh air is good for us. In the winter months I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark, so I go on my lunch time. I felt so much better and will make every effort to continue this habit this season.


3/30/2013 4:00:21 PM

Am real happy to get this spark activities.


1/7/2013 10:39:38 PM

SPARKFRAN514's SparkPage
thank you great plans


1/27/2012 1:16:56 PM

PIXIEMOM13's SparkPage
I don't know that I agree with #5 "Cut the comfort food".. its unhealthy to completely cut anything out of your diet... how about "Find lower-fat, lighter versions of your favorite comfort food."?? Most of the time ANY recipe can be lightened in some way... or indulged in with a smaller portion,etc.


1/27/2012 11:10:26 AM

I hate days with no sun--regardless of the time of year. I confess that I'm not a sun-worshipper though because of my rosacea, but I do love a bright, sunny day!! :)


1/26/2012 9:41:22 PM

WATCHINW8's SparkPage
If the sun comes out, I go out!

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