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Ten Healthy Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Are you familiar with the winter blues? Approximately 5% of North Americans that suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or more commonly considered the winter blues. It typically occurs during the autumn and winter season when the days are shorter and may continue until spring. Factors such as colder temperature and less sunlight can worsen the symptoms. Individuals who suffer from SAD experience depression, anhedonia (loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed), lethargy, loss of appetite, and changes in sleep patterns. SAD can be diagnosed once depression has been established to follow a seasonal pattern. If you recognize that you have the symptoms above, the check out of list of ways that you can beat the winter blues until spring.

  1. Be Active. Studies have shown that a one hour walk in the middle of the day can help with the winter blues. Exercise also helps release endorphins which are “feel good” hormones, which also aid the SAD symptoms. If you prefer running, 20 minutes of vigorous activity every day also reduces depressive mood.
  2. Getting Out. Going out as much as possible, especially during the middle of the day and when the sun is out, can help with the symptoms of SAD. Try choosing pale colors in your home and add a few mirrors to the walls as both reflect more light.
  3. Keeping warm. When the body is cold, it can make one more depressed. Studies have shown that by staying warm through having hot drinks and food, wearing warmer clothes and shoes, and keeping your home at a standard temperature between 64⁰F and 70⁰F, the winter blues can be reduced by half.
  4. Eating healthy. This is what you should always do, but if you have the winter blues, this step becomes more important than ever. Having a healthy diet boosts mood, provides more energy, and prevents putting on weight during the winter.
  5. Light therapy. Some find that light therapy can be effective for SAD. One of the best ways is to sit in front of a light box for approximately two hours a day. The light box produces a brighter light and is much stronger than ordinary lighting.
  6. Mind stimulation. It’s important to keep your mind active through puzzles or new hobbies such as journal writing, joining a book club, or having a new group of friends to socialize with. The most important thing is to have something to look forward to everyday.
  7. Relationships. Make an effort to connect with your friends and family. Socializing is good for your mental health and keeps the winter blues at bay. Try calling your family or friends and keep in touch with them. Phone calls have been shown to be much more effective compared to text messages in enhancing mood.
  8. Supplements. Sometimes a little additional help doesn’t hurt. Nootropics are a cognitive enhancing supplement that can improve mood, energy, and focus. They are especially helpful during the winter when you need an extra boost at work. Always consult with your physician before trying any new supplement.
  9. Support groups. Know that you’re not alone and may people all over the world suffer from SAD. Join a support group by looking for one through online sources or asking your doctor.
  10. Help. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you cannot cope. Sometimes, winter blues can mimic symptoms of another condition. Chronic pain, sleeping troubles, and cardiovascular issues can all cause some depression. Remember to ask for help from a medical professional to ensure that your symptoms are not part of something more serious.

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