How to Beat the Winter Blues
Depending on where you live - New York City versus Los Angeles - winter will either be something you dread or something that passes you by without noticing.
Sometimes even people who live in the warmer states like California experience cyclical changes that affect their moods and disposition.
The extreme form of this is called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a cyclical form of depression caused by changes in the circadian rhythm - a 24-hour cycle that regulates biochemical processes in the body.
For some people, as the hours of sunlight decrease in the fall and winter, their circadian rhythm cycle can become disrupted. The hormone melatonin and the neurotransmitter serotonin suddenly drop in the winter and this causes lethargy, depression, irritability and weight gain.
So, what can you do to help beat the winter blues? Here are my top 10 tips:
1. Take Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 is not actually a vitamin, it's a steroid hormone manufactured in the body from direct exposure to sunlight. Because sunlight is weak or scarce in some winters, be sure to buy a good Vitamin D3 supplement to make up for lost sunlight. I recommend a liquid Vitamin D3 supplement, as they are the most easily absorbed by the body.
2. Invest in a high quality light therapy sun lamp.
Light therapy sunlamps are often household necessities in states that suffer from lack of winter sunshine, like Washington. Be sure to invest in a high quality sun lamp that you can use throughout the day for 15 minutes at a time.
3. Hibernate happily.
Sometimes it's best to surrender to winter and take up hibernation like a bear. My favorite thing to do in the winter is to curl up under a cozy blanket for a snooze. You can watch movies you've always wanted to see or curl up on the couch with a good book you've been meaning to read or get all cozy by the fire in your favorite snuggly socks.
4. Eat warm, nourishing comfort foods.
When the temperature drops, I go into soup mode. Use this time to make those rich bean soups and hearty squash and root vegetable stews that you've been wanting to try. It will nourish and warm your body and spirit.
5. Watch comedy shows and improv that make you laugh out loud.
Laughter is the best medicine, and we all know that those who laugh more live longer. So give yourself a healthy dose by downloading your favorite comedian and watch the show until you have a stitch in your side from laughing so hard.
6. Layer up and go for walks outside in the cold, fresh air.
Just because it's cold outside, doesn't mean you shouldn't be outside. As long as you layer up with wooly hats, warm jackets and thermal base layers, even the snow and sleet will be your friend. Bundle up and take a stroll on a freezing winter evening and notice how refreshed you are when you return home. Then treat yourself to a hot beverage in your favorite mug!
7. Spend time soaking it up in a hot tub or sauna.
There is nothing that raises your body heat quite like soaking in a hot tub or sauna. Just do it weekly throughout winter, and be sure to hydrate before you get in!
8. Find a movement class that makes you sweat.
Getting your body moving floods you with feel-good endorphins. So find a high energy dance class like Zumba or even belly dancing and get your groove on. Then treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate afterwards with your new dance buddy.
9. Buy some great looking winter outfits so you don't feel frumpy.
Take all your old, moth-eaten sweaters to Goodwill and buy yourself some sexy, head-turning winter gear like leggings, boots and scarves so you can go out and about in style.
10. Take a vacation somewhere sunny or tropical.
If the winter months are simply unbearable, there is nothing that breaks it up better than a short vacation to a sunny place like Hawaii or Mexico. It will give you the boost to get through the rest of the winter...and with a tan too!
If you find yourself in the throws of the winter blues, give one of these tips a try. And remember, Spring will be here before you know it!
In health and happiness,