Do you dread the shorter, darker, colder days of winter? If you struggle with mild depression, fatigue and mood changes this time of year, you might be one of 11 million Americans suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Maybe you’re feeling a little moody or have noticed a decrease in your energy. Getting out of bed – and out of the house to socialize – might seem more challenging lately.
Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather, but there are things you can do to keep those winter blues at a distance and enjoy a brighter mood during the rest of the season.
Give these remedies a try for a more manageable, productive and depression-free winter!
Brighten up your surroundings.
Light has a powerful effect on your brain. It boosts serotonin which helps keep depression at bay. Taking advantage of all the light you can get can really have a positive impact your mood!
- Open blinds and sit closer to windows where you can (home, work, restaurants, etc.).
- Take an early morning walk after sunrise. (Use a timer on your bedside lamp to wake yourself nice and early. It’s better to wake up to bright light than a dark room.
- Brighten your home at night with artificial light.
- Consider light therapy. Sitting near a light therapy box for 30 minutes a day causes a chemical change in the brain that improves mood and symptoms. I recommend using a 10,000 lux light box. About 80% of people with SAD have achieved great relief this way.
Exercising and moving with purpose five times a week for 30 minutes a day relieves stress, increases positivity and combats winter depression. Don’t have a gym membership? Take a short or long walk out in the fresh air whenever you can.
Stick to a healthy diet!
I believe that food is medicine and crucial to improving your quality of life. Make healthy choices to increase your energy and fight the winter blues.
- Balance fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats to keep your immune system strong and able to keep those winter “bugs” away.
- Incorporate healthy new recipes into your life. Making (and eating!) nutritious meals with your tribe is a great way to bond and stay happy.
- You tend to crave carbs more in the winter, so be sure to choose whole grain foods and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
- Manage your stress.
Managing your stress is a great way to keep negativity at bay and improve your mood. Discover your favorite ways to relax and unwind. Listen to music, meditate, write down your thoughts in a journal, stretch, get spiritual or share laughter with loved ones.
When winter depression hits, it’s harder to stay social. Even when it’s tempting to curl up under the covers at home, make the effort to be around people you enjoy. Connection and social support is very important to your mental health and will always give you that needed boost!
Remember to make healthy living a part of every day!
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste. – Dr. Nandi
My prescriptions for a happier, depression-free season.
- Make nutrition a priority. Food is love. Nourish your body and soul with healthy and whole foods. Avoid anything processed and stick with fruits, vegetables, lean fats and healthy grains.
- Have some fun with your tribe. It has been proven that those who are part of a tribe – or close community – live longer and healthier lives. In fact, friendships increase your happiness and sense of fulfillment!
- Take a trip. If possible, plan a winter getaway to a sunny and warm destination!