WINTER BLUES GETTING YOU DOWN?

As the temperatures start to drop in the Northeast, you may be feeling more moody than usual. The good news is, you’re not alone.

You could be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression related to the change of season when we have less exposure to natural light. Add to that the cold weather and the fact that winter is right around the corner, it can be a real drain on your energy levels.

It’s pretty common during this time of year to feel a bit off and not like your usual, upbeat self. But if you find that you can’t quite shake the negative thoughts that keep swirling around your mind and it’s affecting your home or work life, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition,

 

“SAD is a form of depression that’s directly related to changes in seasons. In most cases, people with SAD experience symptoms at the beginning of fall that continue through the winter months, depleting energy and making people moody. “

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

There’s a difference between experiencing SAD and just having days when you feel down in the dumps. Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we’re just having a bad day. However, if you feel down for long stretches of time and can’t get motivated to do the things  you normally enjoy, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor. You can also use some of the tips below to give yourself a boost.

TIPS TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES

  1.  Eat a healthy diet.
    While junk food and carbs can provide temporary feelings of satisfaction and happiness, they also can make us feel anxious and depressed. It’s okay to indulge occasionally, but stick to the 90/10 rule: Ninety-percent of the time you should focus on eating a balanced, whole foods diet and ten percent is left for indulging in treats. Your body requires nutrients and when it doesn’t get them (eating too much junk or processed foods), it not only depresses your immune system, it continues to signal hunger—which equates to overeating. With proper  nutrients, you’ll have more energy and feel better about yourself physically and mentally.
  2. Get regular FSA (fun sweaty activity).
    It may not be the easiest thing to do when it’s cold and dark outside, but we’ve all experienced the positive affects of daily exercise. Choose something you love, otherwise it’s unlikely that you’ll stick to a regular routine. Try to commit to 30 minutes five times a week. Find someone to hold you accountable and either exercise together or have regular check-ins. Your body loves to move and will love you for it!
  3. Plan a trip.
    Spending time in the sun can be a balm to our souls. Planning a vacation gives you something to look forward to and puts your focus on things you love which will naturally boost your mood. Plus, it’s good to get away from the day to day and allow ourselves to relax, regenerate and de-stress.
  4. Increase social interactions.
    Colder weather can cause us to hunker down and stay home where it’s warm and cozy. But don’t discount the positive mood boost you’ll get when you spend time interacting with others. We’re social creatures by nature and spending too much time alone can really make your mood plummet. Being around family and friends will lift your spirits, especially during the holidays season. You could also ask a friend to meet for a cup of tea, see a movie or go for a hike. Laugh more, worry less, and spend time with the people you love.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques.
    Anxiety and stress are often associated with SAD. We can activate our parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes the heart and slows down breathing by incorporating practices like yoga, meditation and conscious breath work (as you breathe, say to yourself, inhale-I am breathing in, exhale-I am breathing out). Do your best to relax, breathe, and find gratitude in the present moment.

FOODS TO BOOST YOUR MOODS

  1. Dark Chocolate
    Eating dark chocolate is good for your memory, blood pressure, and your mood. It helps alleviate depression and also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which means that it’s actually good for your brain. One ounce a day of a quality dark chocolate is all you need. Be sure not to overdo it. Too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing.
  2. Bananas
    Have you ever heard about eating a banana before exercising? It’s a great choice before starting a workout because bananas fuel  the body with energy. You’ll also get potassium, B vitamins, and carbohydrates all in one piece of fruit, and you’ll stay full longer. Whenever you’re craving a snack, reach for a banana!
  3. Salmon
    In addition to receiving valuable omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a great source of protein which stabilizes energy levels. It’s high in B vitamins, selenium (good for thyroid health) and a good source of potassium. It’s also beneficial for brain health, and circulation.
  4. Blueberries
    Blueberries are known for their low glycemic and anti-oxidant properties. It’s one of my favorite foods (second only to dark chocolate!) and can be consumed all year round. At this time of year, Chilean blueberries are abundant at the market and you can always buy frozen to keep on hand. They’re great in salads (green or fruit), smoothies or add to Greek or goat cheese yogurt.

Recipe: Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie

This smoothie recipe will be sure to boost your mood!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 large banana, frozen
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond, coconut, hemp or rice milk
  • 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds (can substitute hemp powder)
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao nibs or powder
  • 1 cup kale or leafy greens, tightly packed

Blend and serve. Makes 2 servings. Enjoy!

Smoothie recipe credit to Kris Carr from Crazy Sexy Juice

Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what did you do to feel better? Share in the comments below!