While some of us might enjoy the winter season and the cold temperatures that come with it, others might absolutely dread it, and there are some valid reasons for this. Let's face it - winter can make you less willing to get out of bed in the morning due to the lack of sunlight, and less productive throughout the day, especially if you're feeling a little under the weather. In fact, the shorter and duller days of winter affect us both physically and mentally, as the lack of sunlight affects our circadian rhythm, which is the body's biological clock that controls certain brain activity and hormone production.
Winter blues can be a serious issue for some individuals, especially older people, or those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or Raynaud’s phenomenon - but luckily, there are some great ways of beating it:
1. Add color to what you wear
Have you ever observed the dull colors everyone seems to wear during winter? Whether people are trying to look thinner, or simply wearing boring shades because they conveniently match jackets and boots, many of us tend to pick boring blacks, browns and grays during the colder months. What you wear makes a difference in both your mood and the mood of people around you, so wearing brighter, more colorful clothes will likely make you feel livelier. There's no reason why you shouldn't add the greens, purples, blues and pinks you wear in the warmer months to your winter wardrobe.
2. Stock up on Vitamin D
Soaking up the sun isn't just relaxing - it's also good for your health, because sunlight is one of our main sources of Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential to our body, and a lack of it can trigger illnesses such as depression. It's a pity we can't enjoy the sun as much as we want (and need) during the winter months, but don't worry - there are substitutes that are easy to get your hands on. You can compensate for vitamin D deficiencies by taking supplements. The recommended daily dietary allowance for vitamin D supplements is 600 international units (IUs), according to the National Institutes of Health.
3. Make a book and movie list
Embrace the cozy indoors by occupying yourself with a good book or movie. After all, what season is better for doing this ? Getting absorbed in a gripping story for some time can take your mind off things and help make your day a little brighter. Keep a small notebook handy for whenever you come across a good title, so you can make a list to refer to whenever you want. This will also widen your knowledge, make you laugh (if it's a comedy), and give you a good reason to socialize with your family.
4. Hang out with positive people
With all due respect, some people can make you feel even worse than you're already feeling. According to the professionals, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, individuals who stick with happy people are more likely to be happy themselves. Are the people you hang out with regularly having positive effects on your feelings? If not, change your company. Of course, we should not exclude the fact that you can also be a source of happiness to other people, so make sure you also show a positive attitude and countenance when meeting people - you can also help make their mood better. Knowing this will make you feel fulfilled.
5. Learn something new
Winter is less about going out than summer is, so why not use your time indoors to learn something new that will benefit you in many ways? According to neuroscientist Nathan Spreng, when we learn, we are reaping benefits for our neurons. They become wired together during learning, hence their "communication" with one another is strengthened. This means that learning something new will rewire your brain, and may also allow you to discover hidden talents, increase your self-esteem, and make you feel accomplished. Beat the blues by learning a new musical instrument, trying your hand at a new card game, or cooking something unusual.
6. Start a project
Take winter as an opportunity to complete a project you've been meaning to work on for a long time. Apart from the accomplishment you will feel when you complete it, getting started on it will also give you reason to get active and move about, ticking tasks off your to-do list as you go. Examples of such a project are incorporating DIY ideas into an area of your home that needs organizing, knitting a new garment, starting a new blog, or even taking up a new hobby. You may even want to paint the walls in your place - giving your environment an update will always make you feel more refreshed, and above all, more satisfied for having done it yourself.
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7. Eat winter mood foods
Experimenting with different foods and flavors is a great idea for winter, especially if they're also nutritious. You can always try your skill and improve on it the next time you try cooking again. Cook up some comforting soups in your slow cooker using some fall and winter ingredients such as squash (which is rich in magnesium and potassium), eggplant (which is a good source of fiber, copper, vitamin B1, and manganese), sweet potatoes (which contain pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids), and turmeric (which helps with immune-inflammatory or stress pathways and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity). You may even keep a collection of cooking recipes and ideas to turn to whenever you're lacking inspiration.
8. Use a sun lamp
You can also use artificial light to fight your winter blues. Bright-light therapy is a form of therapy that uses flat screens that produce fluorescent light (at an intensity of 10,000 lux), called light boxes. By sitting in front of them, you will be compensating for the lack of sunlight you experience in winter, lessening the negative effect this has on your circadian rhythms. You can find these light systems in health clubs, or you can even purchase them for yourself to use for 30-60 minutes a day. Generally, much of their benefits should be reaped before 10am.
9. Sit by the fire
Winter may be short of natural light, but you can make your own natural light source by lighting a fire. It's the perfect thing to do when you're feeling a little down in the dumps, and, of course, cold. Not only can this warm up your house in the winter, many people find it particularly comforting to stare at the flickering flames and listen to the crackles of the wood as it burns. If you don't happen to have a fireplace in your home, go ahead and get in touch with that friend who has one, or pop down to your local coffee shop.
10. Head into the great outdoors
Why not? It's true that winter may be harsh at times, and can make you feel uncomfortable when out in the freezing cold, but nowadays there's practically no reason not to enjoy it. Start by wearing many comfortable layers, thermal socks, and a thick, waterproof jacket to shield yourself from extreme weather. Once you're done gearing up, make plans for some exciting winter activities such as ice-fishing, ice-skating, snow-shoeing, skiing and many others. You'll find out how winter can be heaps of fun too!