5 Tips For Fighting The Winter Blues

Posted on February 20, 2017

For decades, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) caused winter to be almost unbearable for millions of people, but now most of the estimated 11 million Americans with SAD are aware of what they’re dealing with. Yet almost anyone can feel tired, frustrated, and otherwise mildly depressed by cold temperatures and dark days. Use these five tricks for shaking off the winter blues, and see a professional to verify that you don’t have SAD if your mood is still down.

Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for emotional health, but it’s also primarily supplied by sunlight absorbed through the skin and eyes. Since most people shy away from outdoor activity in the winter and the sun is also weaker, it’s very easy to develop a Vitamin D deficiency that produces symptoms like:

  • Brain fog, or difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fatigue, even after resting
  • Depressed mood
  • Random and short-term body aches and pains
  • Muscle weakness.

Over the counter Vitamin D supplements will work, but for the best results, visit your doctor to determine exactly the right amount to take based on how much you’re missing.

Get Out Earlier

Even when you’re relying on artificial light and Vitamin D supplements, there’s still a need to expose yourself to early morning light for its effect on your internal rhythms. Getting outside between the hours of sunrise and 9 am exposes you to wavelengths that trigger your circadian rhythms to balance out properly, resulting in better sleep habits, higher energy levels during the day, and even potentially a lower body mass index.

Invest in a Lightbox

When it’s simply not possible to get outside, try a light therapy box instead. For under $100, you can find a simple table top tested to provide the right blend of light waves to stimulate your body’s rhythms, and aim for a product offering around 10,000 lux to make sure it’s bright enough to provide a therapeutic benefit. Daylight bulbs won’t work, even if they do make your home’s interior look better.

Exercise

Staying active is one of the best ways to fight mild depression from any source, but it’s especially effective during this season because most of us fall into more sedentary patterns during this season. Heated gyms and fun outdoor activities help you get moving without committing to a grueling run in the snow.

Limit Carbs

Finally, watch what you’re eating in response to your blues. It’s tempting to snack on sweets and starchy comfort foods, but all those carbs can contribute to bloating, fatigue, and other parts of the seasonal blues.