It is estimated that between 10-20% of Americans suffer from the winter blues. The winter blues is considered a milder form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This isn't to diminish the devastating effects the winter blues can have on a person's day to day life. According to Penn State, people who suffer from the winter blues aren't sad, they suffer just from fatigue. Other symptoms that can occur include irritability, anxiety, as well as aches and pains in the body. Fortunately, there are ways to help minimize or avoid the winter blues all together.
Get More Light
Let's face it. Winter can be quite dreary. The days are shorter and the nights are longer. The lack of light exposure can cause our pituitary gland to produce less melatonin. Make a point to bask in the sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day to take in that much needed vitamin D and light.
Another option is to open the curtains or blinds and allow natural light to radiate inside. For the long nights, consider installing VF bulbs. VF bulbs emit a different wavelength of light than regular bulbs. They may be a higher wattage, but the extra light will help beat those winter blues.
Get Plenty of Sleep
A part of our dreary moods during the winter months has to do with our natural desire to go into hibernation. Nothing sounds better on long, cold winter days and nights than to curl up under soft, warm blankets and wait for spring to arrive. Unfortunately, life won't allow us to do that. The next best thing is to make sure you are getting plenty of sleep to begin with. Try to schedule at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
In the wintertime most people crave carbohydrates, sweets, starches, and fatty foods in general. This can make a person feel sluggish after eating these comfort foods. Consider reaching for healthier foods such as soups, fruits, and vegetables. It is best to eat fruits and vegetables fresh but this can be challenging during the winter months so frozen is a better alternative than canned.
Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet will also help combat winter blues. Since we get most of our photon energy from the sun and your ability to store photon energy in the cell membranes depends on the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, adding this to your diet may prove helpful.
Also, staying hydrated is an important part of keeping away the winter blues. By drinking plenty of water, your body is better able to convert the food you consume into much needed energy. This keeps away that sluggish feeling.
Since the lack of light can cause a lack of melatonin to be produced, consider taking a melatonin supplement right before bed. Always start with a low dose and slowly increase the milligrams. Another supplement to try is vitamin D. The sun provides a good source of vitamin D and with us not getting enough sunlight might mean you aren't getting enough vitamin D.
However, remember that before starting any supplement program it is always best to consult your doctor first.
Exercising is a great way to run off those winter blues. Staying active is an important part of increasing energy and giving you a sense of well-being. During exercise, endorphins are released. Endorphins are what give you that energetic, happy feeling. So if the winter blues are taking over, consider going for a walk or a jog. If it is too cold outside, consider walking around the mall or an indoor track.
Many people like to wear the thickest items of clothing during the wintertime. Unfortunately, this may be the cause of the winter blues. Consider choosing several lighter items and layer your clothing. By doing this you won't feel so weighted down and yet still feel warm.
While other people are grabbing the darker colors, go against the grain. Wear brighter colors. It is noted by several psychologist that wearing bright colors actually affect a person's mood positively. So if you need a little lift try avoiding dark earthy tones and add a splash of color to your wardrobe.
Jesse Duplantis once said, "Pain in life is inevitable, misery is optional." Sometimes you just need to quit wallowing on the couch or in the bed with an 'oh woe is me' attitude. Sounds harsh, but feeling better isn't just going to come to you. You have to go out and get it. Plan some time with friends and family. Go to an event or plan a party. In other words get up, socialize, and make some happy memories. Sometimes that is what friends and family are there for - to make you forget about your troubles and make you feel good.
In most cases winter blues can be avoided by following these simple suggestions. If anything, it can make the winter blues more tolerable. Once you can pinpoint what is causing your winter blues, the quicker it will be a thing of the past. If none of these tips work you may want to see a physician to see if you have a more severe case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
© 2014 Linda Sarhan
Paula from The Midwest, USA on October 26, 2014:
Some great tips as the winter months approach. Thanks for sharing. Some I had not heard of before, but make sense.
Linda Sarhan (author) from Lexington KY USA on October 26, 2014:
Great idea! I added an optional link to a sunlamp for SAD suffers from Amazon.com. I wouldn't say that I suffer from SAD or the winter blues, but sometimes the dreariness of winter can be a real downer. I may look at investing in one of these sunlamps myself.
drbaker on October 26, 2014:
I would like to add that, as a SAD sufferer, I have found a SAD sunlamp to be very helpful. They are available just about anywhere. I think I bought mine for a good price at Amazon.com.
Thanks for the tips. A lot of work went into your article.