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Beat the Winter Blahs: Remedies that Actually Work

posted: 02/16/17
by: Katie Morton
Cold Weather Blues Ahead Road Sign in snowy landscape.
iStock

When the days are shorter, darker, and colder, many of us find that our moods and energy levels take a hit. Whether you have a mild case of the mid-winter blahs or full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), here are six proven ways to improve your mood, energy, and health.

1. Light Up Your Life

Bright light is a surefire way to blast the winter blahs. In winter, the sun sets earlier, so our bodies get less sunlight each day. The result can be a depressed mood, less energy, and troubled sleep cycles. We have an answer: Try to expose your body to at least 20 minutes of natural sunlight every day. You can walk outside, sit on the deck, or even move your desk closer to a window.

If natural sunlight isn't an option due to your work schedule or foul winter weather, then check out alternative light therapy. Artificial sunlight can mimic the outdoors, giving your body both the vitamin D and warmth that it craves.

2. Simulate the Morning Dawn

Another way to trick your winter body into getting more daylight is to fake the rising sun in your bedroom. Studies demonstrate that those who use a dawn simulator find it easier to wake up and get moving in the morning. What's a dawn simulator? Basically, it's just as it sounds--it's a device that sets your bedroom lights to brighten gradually over a period of time.

3. Dance the Blues Away

If you've ever belted out your favorite song in the shower, or had a solo concert while commuting, then you're already familiar with the mood-boosting benefits of music. Combine that with some exercise, and you've got a powerful (and free!) way to combat the winter blahs. Frigid temps and shorter days mean that we're inclined to be more sedentary. Turning up your tunes and taking a dance break can boost your energy levels and your moods. Regular exercise has been shown to prevent SAD--so get moving.

4. Bundle Up and Embrace the Outside

If you live in a climate where temperatures regularly dip below freezing, planning an outdoor activity may be the last thing you want to do. Trekking through the snow is not nearly as appealing as strolling through spring flowers. But, research has found that spending time outside can improve your cognitive sharpness and reduce stress. So, bundle up and head outside for some fun. Even though it's cold, your body and brain will thank you!

5. Fight the Urge to Hibernate

We are, by nature, social animals. We all crave human connection and contact to stimulate our brains. However, when the days are shorter and colder, we may be less inclined to schedule social time. Experts say that connecting with others is vital to our mental well-being. Schedule time with a friend--coffee, dinner, or a park date to walk your dogs. Whatever you can do to maximize your social time will help you ward off those winter doldrums.

6. Seek Out Support

The winter blahs are one thing, but full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another. If you find you're so down that you can't get out of bed or perform your daily activities, help is available. Check in with your doctor to discuss your mood; SAD is a medical disorder and should be treated as such.

Dietary supplements, aggressive light therapy, talk therapy, and medication are all medically recommended treatments for SAD. You don't have to try and fight through depression on your own.

If you're fighting a case of the winter blahs, know that you're not the only one. Arm yourself with these six remedies to blast those winter blues away. And remember, spring is just around the corner--that first dose of warm sunshine and flower-scented air will be here before we know it!