10 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues
My nine-year-old daughter, Delany, said to me this weekend, “Mommy, I wish winter were over.” Although living in Hilton Head doesn’t really provide a good reason to dislike winter, I agree with Delany. It’s not the cold that is becoming tiresome as much as it is the overcast skies, copious rain, and long, dark days.
About this time last year I wrote a blog on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is characterized by the development of a mild depression, or worsening depression, related to changes in the seasons. It is primarily associated with the winter months because of the decrease in exposure to sunlight. However, you don’t need a diagnosable depression to experience the winter blues.
As Delany expressed her wish I heard her speaking my truth…I have the winter blues. Bummer. Not one to slide easily into gloominess, I quickly searched the internet for strategies and tips that help do away with winter doldrums. Here are a few that sound promising:
- Change your light bulbs! Florescent compact bulbs can actually change the levels of melatonin in your brain, inhibiting depression. You might also try full spectrum light bulbs like Blues Buster bulbs, which produce a light similar to natural sunlight and cost about $7 a bulb.
- Peppermint oil can help with sadness and depression by giving you a surge of energy. Keep some in your pocket or purse and take a whiff from time to time. Ahhhhhh!
- Laugh more! Laughter has shown to both improve depressed mood as well as produce resiliency against stress. When was the last time you purposively set out to make yourself laugh?
- Spice things up! Chili peppers contain capsaicin which has been shown to boosts energy and can enhance circulation.
- Fresh flowers. Fragrant flowers let a bit of spring into you house or office. They also offer a burst of color which can improve your mood.
- Let the sunshine in! Keep the shades open and flood your home with sunlight.
- Massage it out. If you were looking for an excuse to book a massage, look no further. Massage can be as effective in treating depression as talk therapy. Massage decreases stress hormones while increasing serotonin levels.
- Have an extra cup of Joe. Good news for coffee drinkers: a recent analysisof data from the Nurses’ Health Study found that women who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk of depression than women who drank less. Starbucks here I come!
- Warm the Sole. Heated insoles from ThermaCELL are designed to help keep your toes warm and make outdoor activities more enjoyable on cold winter days. A wireless remote-control allows you to adjust the heat to a desired temperature. Now that will put a spring in your step.
- Last, but not least…EXERCISE! In addition to the myriad of physical benefits, exercise reduces stress, wards off anxiety and feelings of depression, boosts self-esteem and improves sleep. Exercise alone can be the antidote to the winter blues!