10 Things to Beat the Winter BluesPublished 3:30pm Monday, February 10, 2014
1. Get more light! Natural sunlight is best, when you can find it in the winter. If you find yourself really depressed, you may need light therapy! The purchase of a light box that provides sunlight can help. If you hate waking up in the dark of winter – you can even by a light box that you can program to wake you up to a simulated sunrise.
2. You are not a bear – don’t hibernate – stay social! It may be tempting to stay home or go home right after work, but that can make you feel lonely. Instead, invite a friend or two over for coffee, out to eat, or to a movie at least once a week. They are probably fighting the winter blues, too!
3. Stay active. Endorphins are the “happy” chemicals in your brain. The more you exercise, eat chocolate or chili peppers, or are exposed to ultraviolet light, the happier you’ll be!
4. Make sure you stay warm and cozy. Throw an extra layer on when you get dressed; and an extra blanket on your bed at night. A simple cup of hot cocoa can do the trick, too!
5. Watch what you eat! Although it is tempting to eat “comfort” foods all winter long – you want to make sure you are eating healthy, high energy foods that will keep you active. We all crave high carbohydrate foods in the winter months; but they can make you feel more worn down. Opt for lean meat and fish instead of a big plate of pasta; and brown rice instead of potatoes. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables!
6. Do something for others. Taking the focus off what you are feeling and helping someone else can boost your morale, and theirs! Winter months are the best time to volunteer at a food shelf or soup kitchen, read to kids at a school, make weekly visits to a nursing home or Veterans center.
7. It’s normal to feel like you need more sleep in the winter, but you don’t want to over-sleep – or you’ll feel even more sluggish. You should plan on 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t sleeping well, try taking a long hot bath before bedtime and stick to a sleep schedule as much as possible. You don’t want to fall asleep at 6 PM one night at 11 PM the next.
8. Take advantage of the fun things about winter in Minnesota. Sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, making a snowman, baking cookies, or winter clearance sales! Even if you spend just half an hour outside everyday enjoying nature or inside with a favorite activity, it will boost your spirits.
9. Surround yourself with bright colors. It may be gloomy outside – but that might be the perfect time to put on your brightest colors. Wearing yellow, pink, orange and red instead of black and gray can boost your energy – and the energy of those around you. Spend a weekend painting your inside walls a brighter color. Buy a bouquet of bright flowers for your table.
10. Remember that spring is just around the corner. Start going through flower and seed catalogs and picking out the colors for your garden, and through clothing catalogs to see the latest spring fashions. It won’t be long before the natural sun and nature’s colors will energize your life!