How to Escape the Winter Blues
As the days are short, natural sunlight becomes scarce and many people fall into a gloomy mood. What can you do to avoid falling victim to the winter blues? Fortunately, there are a few things for you to do to maintain a stable mood and high energy levels during the cold season. Spoiler alert: it involves leading a healthy lifestyle. Keep reading to find out how to prevent the winter blues so that you may enjoy winter to the absolute fullest.
How can I tell if I'm suffering from winter blues?
Sleet, cloudy skies, and freezing cold temperatures: as soon as the cold season begins, it gets unpleasant outside. Sunlight usually keeps us animated and in a good mood. The lack of it now causes the winter blues for many people. These people complain of a depressed mood, listlessness, and problems falling asleep. Perhaps you have also noticed that you suddenly feel more withdrawn during the cold season and find it harder than usual to cope with everyday life. Due to the bad weather, to a certain extent it is normal to spend more time indoors in winter. Snuggled up on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, you can experience wonderful moments of relaxation. You should only become suspicious if you don't want to leave your home at all, are avoiding your friends and family, and suddenly no longer enjoy activities that you used to like doing. If this is the case, you might be a victim of the winter blues.
What are the causes of winter blues?
Winter blues is a seasonal depressive disorder that is attributed to insufficient serotonin production. We briefly touched on it earlier, but the main reason for the depressed mood in winter is the lack of stimulating daylight. When we get enough sunlight, our body's own serotonin production is stimulated and thanks to the happiness hormone, we feel energetic and cheerful. In the cold season, on the other hand, it is often dark. Darkness in turn stimulates the production of another hormone: the sleep hormone melatonin. This sleep-inducing hormone normally helps us fall asleep. However, if the levels of this hormone are permanently high, we feel listless, as if we are in permanent sleep mode. The best way to cure the winter blues is to rebalance our hormones. The question remains: how can you naturally stimulate your serotonin production?
The best tips to beat the winter blues
Are you looking to boost your mood and enjoy high energy levels once again? These practical tips will help you combat the winter blues – and emerge victorious.
Get out into that fresh air
Although it may seem like you don't get any sunlight outside in winter, even when the sky is gray and cloudy, you are exposing your body to three or four times more sunlight than you would have if you had just stayed inside. An added bonus: exercise in the fresh air is good for you and also has a beneficial effect on your hormone levels. The only problem is that if you've got the winter blues, you're probably not in the mood for strenuous forms of exercise. A particularly gentle way to get enough light is to go for a stroll. Just half an hour of brisk walking is enough to stimulate your serotonin production. If you still feel like natural daylight is not enough to put you in a better mood after a few weeks, light therapy with special lamps could be the key to beating the winter blues.
Focus on nutrient-rich foods
The general dullness and fatigue associated with the winter blues can be further exacerbated by nutrient deficiencies and stress. When your body's own cells lack important building blocks to revitalize and invigorate your body, your brain pulls the emergency brake. Once the brain has switched to sleep mode to save energy, you will feel exhausted and stressed more quickly. To give your body the best possible care in winter, you should support it with a diet rich in vital nutrients. The easiest way to strengthen your body and your immune system is to change your diet to include more unprocessed, natural foods. Even if it's tempting to reach for pre-packaged foods when your mood and energy levels are low, the many artificial additives will likely make you feel unbalanced and depressed. Including vitamin-rich fruit, fiber-rich vegetables, and tryptophan-rich nuts and grains in your winter diet, will naturally ensure a (delicious) serotonin boost.
Cultivate loving relationships
Snuggling up with our partner or close friends is not only something we enjoy in winter. However, for anyone who has been hit by the winter blues, it is particularly important to experience a lot of human closeness. Thanks to the touch stimuli that arise during affectionate cuddles, our brain releases certain hormones and neurotransmitters that have a positive effect on our well-being. At the forefront: the cuddling hormone oxytocin. It relieves anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress – perfect for putting you in a pleasant state of happiness. And what happens to all the single people suffering from the winter blues? Luckily, our four-legged friends are happy to help. When you cuddle with a dog or cat, oxytocin is released in both the animals and you.
Prioritize healthy sleep
In winter, your body's biorhythm is upset by the lack of daylight. Turning night into days will throw your internal clock even further out of sync. If you often go to bed too late, the prolonged lack of sleep can exacerbate your already bad mood. Fixed bedtimes help your body get in the mood for a good night's sleep and are important for a fixed daily structure. Your body craves a set routine which makes it easier for it to function optimally – and rewards you with a stable state of mind. With the right sleep hygiene, you also help your body to regenerate at night to ensure a well-rested start to the day the next morning.