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Temps are low. Outside is dreary, cold, and gray. You’re feeling tired, moody, and you just want to sleep. Sound familiar? It could be a case of the winter blues.


January 15, 2018

Beating the winter blues can take more than a day on the couch to feel better. But with these 8 tips and some mood-boosting lifestyle changes, you can be well on your way to a brighter winter.

Let The Sunshine In

Let’s talk about cabin fever. No, not the scary movie from the early 2000s. Oftentimes in the winter, people feel irritable and cranky due to prolonged periods spent indoors and less contact with the sun. Sound familiar? It could be cabin fever. When we turn the clocks back, we’re exposed to less natural sunlight during the day. This disrupts our body’s circadian rhythm, which controls your body’s internal clock and sleep and wake cycle.

But besides buying a one way ticket south of the equator, how can you shake this season-long feeling of being tired and moody?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Rather than waiting around for the spring weather to break, there are some actions you can take right now to raise your mood elevator.

1. Exercise
Not only is exercise good for your physical health, it plays a large role in your mental health, as well. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, three to five days a week, to improve your mood and raise your energy levels. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime. 

two men talking outside in workout clothes

2. Help Others
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do something nice for someone? Do more of that. Whether it be volunteering or helping a friend in need, make it a priority to give back this winter. 

3. Plan Something Fun
Nothing is more exciting than having fun plans to look forward to. It can be something as simple as breakfast with a friend or a full blown vacation. Extravagance doesn’t matter, just plan something to look forward to. 

4. Pick Up a New Hobby
No matter what you pick, the idea is to keep your mind focused and concentrated on a new activity. Bring on the painting!

person painting with watercolors

5. Find the Light
Even though daylight might be scarce this time of year, make it a point to find some. Sit by a window with the blinds open or take a short walk outside during the early afternoon to take advantage of the sun’s rays.

6. Eat Smart
Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D can help improve your mood. Food sources of Vitamin D include fish, milk, and egg yolks. Do you find yourself craving carbs when the snow strikes? You’re not the only one. With the days being shorter, serotonin levels also drop due to less sunlight and less Vitamin D absorbed from the sun. In response, your body begins to crave carbs as another way to increase serotonin levels. Reach for complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or whole-grain pastas and breads. Always seek the advice of your physician before making any changes to your diet.

7. Rainbow Bright
While it might be winter, move the dark layers to the back of your closet. Instead, incorporate bright shades of yellow, orange, and red into your wardrobe, which all are high energy colors.

person holding a coffee cup in a yellow sweater

8. Cultivate Coziness
Instead of hating on winter, take a cue from folks in Norway who celebrate what they call "koselig." Similar to the Danish “hygge” trend – a celebration of coziness, shared meals, and time with friends and family − koselig is a state of being warm, kind, and cozy. Bring out the soft blankets and light some candles!

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