Have you ever felt that when the temperature goes down, so does your mood? I have heard this called the winter doldrums or, more scientifically, seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Yes, there really is a legitimate reason for the urge to curl up under a blanket and watch movies that make you cry, read books that tell a tragic story, or do nothing at all. It’s not simply that you’re adapting a leisurely pace in winter, it’s that you can feel a bit depressed when cold weather comes, especially when it sticks around for a long time.
After the bustle of the holidays it can feel like a welcome change when that more melancholy mood and leisurely pace set in. But after a while, sitting in your pajamas until mid-afternoon on the weekends and ordering take-out every night begins to feel a bit sad. So how do you put the spring back in your step and elevate your mood when it’s grey and cold? There are several things you can do such as enjoying new activities, new flavors, and increasing time spent socializing.
Food can have a big impact on your mood. When the blues hit and you down a quart of ice cream you may feel a temporary lift, but ultimately you will come crashing down. Healthy foods can help combat the winter blues. “Oh no”, you say, “how is eating bland, healthy food going to lift me out of the winter doldrums”? Because things like Omega 3’s are beneficial to emotional health, lean proteins are a great source of energy, and berries can inhibit the release of cortisol which impacts your emotional responses. You’ll want to cut sugars because they are more addicting than most drugs and if you’re already feeling blue, the crash from a sugar high is going to make you feel even worse. Try eating healthy dishes like salmon (lean protein and those Omega 3’s) but add new flavors in a sauce like maple-dijon or blueberry-cabernet. In winter your body typically isn’t getting as much vitamin D from sunlight so add vitamin-D rich foods like eggs and oily fish.
If you aren’t actually depressed, but simply bored and feeling cooped up because of the weather – force yourself to go outside or socialize. Spending just a short amount of time walking outdoors will provide that much needed vitamin D from the natural light and will get your blood pumping. Enjoying new experiences with friends could also be just the boost you need. Never seen a play? Now could be the right time. Meet for lunch where healthy food is served, or serve others by volunteering or simply committing acts of random kindness.
I get it, it’s hard sometimes to shake that feeling of woe when the sky turns dark well before dinnertime, or when the snow is piled up at your door. But try enjoying new flavors, new experiences and a new attitude. It’s ok to maintain a leisurely pace, just do something! And if that doesn’t help, crank up the heat, invest in a sunlight lamp and fool your body into thinking it’s spring!