photo by ewelina kanty
I don’t know about you, but, around this time of the year, the winter blues hit me hard. The excitement of the holidays has well and truly dissipated, and you are left with feelings of sadness or irritation and a lack of energy. Not ideal. When the days are short and the outdoor temps are not very welcoming, it becomes challenging to find the energy to do anything — to spend time with other humans, make your workout class, find a new hobby. By the end of February — the cruelest month — you realize you are just about done with this winter business because you feel like it seized from you precious months of your year.
Despite experiencing them annually, the winter blues seem to sneak up on me time and time again. It will take me a few days of feeling “off” before I remember what is happening and have to make some necessary adjustments. Luckily, I am not alone. The winter blues is an extremely common mood disorder that affects millions of people every year and can often be treated with a few diet and lifestyle changes. (Talking to a doctor or a therapist can also help if you are feeling down.)
To help us all lift our spirits while we are waiting for spring, I asked four of my favorite wellness experts to give us some of their tips for ways to get through this dark, cold hell of a season.
Megan Weimer @meginthemidwest
“With freezing temps and the sun setting at like 5:30 PM every day, the winter blues are a real phenomenon. When you feel like hibernating, know that you’re not alone in this! However, if you have more severe symptoms that are affecting areas of your life, like your career and relationships, I encourage you to seek help from your doctor or therapist. You may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression. However, if it’s just the ‘ol winter blues that are getting you down, I do have a few tips.
First, make sure that you are supplementing if you need to. With the lack of sunshine during the winter, a lot of people can become deficient in Vitamin D. If you follow a plant-based diet, you may also be lacking Vitamin B-12, which has been linked to depression. (Make sure to get your vitamin levels checked and consult a doctor before starting any of these supplements.) Other than taking vitamins, I recommend getting in some form of movement a few times a week (those endorphins are real!), getting together with friends, and making your home as cozy as possible with blankets and candles. I hope these tips help to shift your perspective and make winter a more enjoyable, sunny time!”
Megan is a holistic wellness blogger and a Master’s student in oboe performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Hannah Schmitt @wholisticallyhannah_
“One of the most powerful ways to alleviate feelings of sadness during the winter is to start a daily practice of walking outside. The benefit’s of nature, movement, and fresh air work in a multitude of ways;
- First, the natural blue light found in daylight helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and promote an overall more balanced mood. And if you’re lucky enough to see the sun during winter, the natural vitamin D will have a profound effect on your emotions.
- Second, the act of moving our body during a walk releases hormones called endorphins that naturally activate feelings of positivity and alleviate pain.
- And last of all, simply breathing in fresh air encourages the production of serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter that promotes an overall sense of well-being.
I recommend going out for a quick walk first thing in the morning to start the day off in a positive and mood-enhancing way.”
Hannah is a registered holistic nutritionist, blogger, writer, and recipe creator based in Vancouver.
Abigail Taft @spoonfulofabby
“1. Get outside whenever you can! Sunshine is lacking in the winter, and it seriously impacts our mood, energy, and sleep. Take advantage of any warmer, sunnier days, and go for a walk outside to soak in some sunshine and fresh air.
2. Vitamin D! Our body gets vitamin D from two sources, the sun, and our diet. Little sun exposure in the winter months makes it even more important to make sure you’re eating adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for optimal metabolism, energy, bone health, weight management, immunity, and brain health. Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, but good sources are fatty fish and egg yolks. A lot of people would benefit from a vitamin D supplement, particularly in the winter.
3. Start your morning with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in warm water to give your immune system a boost!
4. Move! The link between exercise and mood is really strong, and there is research showing that as little as 3 minutes of movement can enhance your mood. I usually recommend at least 20 minutes of dedicated exercise 4 times a week.
5. Stick to a routine. With shorter, darker days, it can feel almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning. Think about how you start and end your day. Try to go to bed and wake-up around the same time and prioritize getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night.”
Abigail is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Cleveland.
Callie Whyad @calliespilates
“What do we do to get through the dreary, gray winters? Find a friend that you enjoy a workout with; I like to call it the buddy system. Going with a friend will hold you accountable not to miss it and get you out of your warm bed. Increasing your heart rate every day automatically puts you in a better mood. If working out isn’t quite your thing, a lot of gyms have saunas and steam rooms that will make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise (if you keep your eyes closed and picture the beach).”
Callie is the owner of an upscale boutique pilates studio in Cleveland.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, ladies!
What do you do to beat the winter blues? Let me know in the comments below!
+ If you are looking for an at-home workout option, Barre3 is my favorite.
+ This nurse likes to wear colorful coats to beat the winter blues.
+ Here are a whole load of book recommendations for the days you want to cuddle up by the fire.