Winter can be a tough time for many people. The shorter days, colder temperatures, and lack of sunshine can lead to feelings of sadness and a general lack of motivation, generally referred to as the “winter blues.”
Whether we’re in for six more weeks of winter or not, the winter blues can have you feeling like winter will never end and that the lethargy you’re feeling will last forever. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the winter blues and support your mental health and mood through the season.
1. Go outside
Even when it’s cold, spending time outside is good for you, even if it’s just for a few minutes. A bit of fresh air and natural sunlight can do wonders for your mood. So try to get outside each day for a walk or to simply enjoy the change of scenery, especially if the sun is shining.
Along those lines, never underestimate the power of vitamin D. If you know you’re not getting enough—a hard task during the winter!—here's some ideas on how to raise your vitamin D levels.
Regular exercise is a great way to boost your mood and energy levels. It's also a great way to stay active during the winter months. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, whether it's a workout at the gym, a yoga class, or a game of pickup basketball. If you need to change things up, here are eight workouts perfect for winter.
3. Eat well
Eating a healthy diet is crucial for overall well-being, especially during the winter. Make sure you're getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, sugar, and caffeine, which can contribute to feelings of depression and fatigue.
4. Stay connected
Social isolation can be a major factor in the development of the winter blues. Make sure you stay connected with friends and family, whether it's through video calls, text messages and social media, or in person.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
6. Consider light therapy
The body’s circadian rhythms are the internal biological clock that regulate our sleep-wake cycle, hunger, and other functions. The decrease in daylight hours disrupts the body's internal clock, which can cause changes in mood and energy levels. If the winter blues are really keeping you down, you could try light therapy. Light therapy lamps mimic natural sunlight and can help regulate your circadian rhythms.
7. Do things that make you laugh
Share a meal with a friend, host a game night, rewatch your favorite movie—anything you know will lighten your spirits. If things are feeling too heavy, that’s your signal to take a break and do something fun.
8. Keep your to-do lists manageable
Winter may not be your most productive season, and that’s okay. Use the season as an excuse to pare down your to-do list and simplify your life wherever you can.
9. Get away—or plan a staycation
The easiest way to escape the winter blues? Go somewhere warm and sunny! But if a vacation won’t fit in your schedule or budget, you can still plan a staycation at home. A temporary change in routine makes life more interesting and invigorating, and having something to look forward to can make the dreary days feel more hopeful.
The winter blues are a common experience for many people, but they don't have to take over your life. By taking steps to take care of yourself and stay active, you can keep the winter blues at bay and enjoy the season.