Are you one that enjoys winter or despises it? It seems people either love it or they hate it. One will either embrace the season and enjoy the snow, or hate it, feel miserable, and stuck inside with nothing to do. While visiting one winter weekend before I moved here, we had a blizzard and I thought to myself, what am I thinking moving to Michigan? Then once here, I didn’t realize the winters were as long as they were. Again I thought, what was I thinking? The winters were long and hard enough to get through living in Cincinnati, then I find out we have even longer winters here. It was quite the challenge to deal with, but I ended up loving the winter I once dreaded. How? I learned how to get through it, make the most of it, and do things that helped me to feel happy. Let me share some tips with you, and help you to beat those dreaded winter blahs once and for all.
Exercise – Whether you don’t want to get out of a warm bed in the morning or you just want to go home and hibernate after work, don’t let yourself skip out on the benefits and importance of exercising. Not only is exercise (and sweating) beneficial for your immune system, it’s known to help improve mood and help decrease symptoms of depression. Aerobic exercise (walking, running, biking, and swimming) seems to be the most effective at increasing serotonin levels. It’s recommended to do 3 hours weekly for optimal results. If you’re a beginner, be sure to gradually build up the amount you do over time.
Healthy Diet – Avoiding refined and processed foods (white bread, rice, sweets) is always important to do for your health, but is also just as important for your mood. A diet high in these foods leads to increased depression and mood swings. Not only that, it weakens your immune system as well. Eating a balanced amount of complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats) and lean proteins (chicken, turkey) in your diet will help to naturally increase serotonin (the feel good chemicals) in your brain and help keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
Music – Not motivated to exercise? Not motivated to do much of anything? Try listening to upbeat music, or anything you know that makes you want to get up and move. I often put music on at home, even if I’m just cleaning I’ll find myself dancing around – it puts me in a great mood and I get great exercise out of it as well. If I don’t feel like working out, just listening to some of my favorite songs will often do the trick and give me the spark I need to get moving.
Light Exposure – With less daylight hours and the colder weather, it’s very difficult to get the much needed natural sunlight we all need. It’s needed for the vitamin D it provides (deficiency is linked to depression), and also for the increase in serotonin levels. If you suffer from depression, talk to your doctor about having your vitamin D levels checked. Whenever possible, try to get outside and get natural sun, since it’s not out often or warm enough to be outside. When at home, be sure to open the blinds to let in as much natural light as possible, and sit near windows when at restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Light boxes can also be purchased to give your brain a similar effect as that of natural sunlight.
Winter Activities – When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Michigan gives you snow, go! Winter brings with it the opportunity for great calorie burning exercise with skiing, snow shoeing, and ice skating. Also, you can enjoy other fun activities such as building a snowman, sled riding, or snow mobiling. I finally told myself; well if we’re going to have all this snow I might as well enjoy it. I bought a set of cross country skis and snow shoes and now can’t wait for it to snow.
Winter blahs, who wants them? Winter doesn’t have to be blah anymore, nor do you have to feel that way. This winter you can do it – beat the blahs, beat the blues, and be a better you!