The weather outside is frightful; and quite frankly the sub-freezing temps and shorter, darker days are leaving you with a bad case of the winter blues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5 percent of the U.S. population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), with symptoms ranging from anxiety to sleep issues. What’s more, another 10 to 20 percent suffer from a much milder form of SAD, often referred to as the winter blues.
If you’re in a winter funk and finding it hard to keep that pep in your step, here are 8 ways to boost your mood – and your energy – this season!
Stock Up on Omega 3s
Bring on the salmon sushi rolls! Studies show that deficiencies in Omega 3s are a contributing factor to mood disorders. In addition to salmon, other Omega-3-packed foods include cod liver oil, sardines, anchovies, and flax seeds.
In addition, you may want to talk with your healthcare provider about supplementing with a fish oil. Our Trilogy Women and Men multivitamins include 100% mercury-free fish oil for a convenient Omega-3 boost!
Look into Light Therapy
Is being cooped up at your desk all winter making you feel down in the dumps? Light therapy has been used as a treatment method for folks with SAD – to help press the reset button on your body’s Circadian Rhythm. It’s also been touted for a number of benefits like helping promote better sleep and improved energy throughout the day, to name a few.
Companies like Circadian Optics are coming out with sleek light therapy lamps (small enough to fit on your desk) to brighten up your day – quite literally. Chat with your healthcare provider to see if bright light therapy may be a good fit for you.
Love Up Your Gut with Whole Foods and Probiotics
While the research is still at an early stage, growing evidence suggests an important role of gut health in mood disorders. After all, a whopping 90% of our serotonin receptors are located in the gut! How fascinating is that? Try incorporating these gut-friendly whole foods into your diet, and chat with your doctor about supplementing with probiotics – aimed to keep your gut happy and healthy.
Move Your Body
Take a tip from Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” It’s true; physical exercise releases feel-good endorphins and may indeed be an alternative treatment option for some mood disorders. Regular exercise can also contribute to improved heart health, sleep and energy levels. Win, win, win!
Host a Winter Gathering with Friends
If you’re feeling low, surround yourself with positive people who lift you up! Host a winter gathering at your home, encouraging everyone to bring a healthy potluck dish, favorite game or movie.
The icing on the cake? Research suggests that while depression is not “contagious,” having friends with a healthy mood can prevent and even reduce feelings of depression (ultimately spreading happiness).
Get Outside & Embrace the Season
Staying cooped up inside all day can make anyone feel like they’ve got a case of “Cabin Fever.” Why not get out and embrace the season?
Bundle up for a winter hike, book a ski trip with your besties or bring out your inner child and give ice-skating a spin! Not only will you have a blast, but research also shows that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety and even depression – working wonders for your mood.
Book a Getaway or Mini Staycation
There’s nothing like a change of scenery to lift your mood – especially if you can get some sunshine. The blistery winter season is the perfect time to escape to the Caribbean for a beachy getaway! Can’t take the time off? Consider a mini staycation at a local spa, cozy cabin or Airbnb to re-energize.
Check Your Vitamin D Levels
If you’re feeling lethargic and moody this winter, low levels of Vitamin D could be to blame. Research has linked inadequate Vitamin D levels to mood disorders and fatigue, and folks in New England are notorious for having low levels of Vitamin D (especially during the winter months.)
One recent study in female diabetics with vitamin D deficiency found that Vitamin D supplementation improved both mood and anti-inflammatory biomarkers. Win, win! Make an appointment with your health professional to get your levels checked, and supplement accordingly with Vitamin D3 if need be.
Note: If you think you may be suffering from SAD, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional to discuss treatment. These suggestions are meant to act as a guide. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when implementing any drastic changes to your diet or healthcare routine.