When the Days are Darker, Shorter, and Colder, What Can You Do to Boost Your Mood?
On December 21, the day of the Winter Solstice, Buffalo will receive only about nine hours of daylight. The average high temperature in December is about 36 degrees, with a low of 24, and we accumulate about 27 inches of snow. In a month that brings such dark, cold, snowy days that it can be easy to sigh, sit on the couch, and adopt the mantra of, “I’ll be inside binge watching Netflix until Spring.”
Winter months don’t have to result in your seasonal hibernation, however. If cold, dark days leave you feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and unhappy, it’s time to change your perspective on winter and learn how to become the master of your mood. Here are eight tips to help you beat the winter blues this year.
- Stay Active. It may not feel as motivating to go for a long walk on a winter day as it does during the summer, but bundle up and head outside when the sun’s out, and you’ll benefit from exposure to much-needed sunlight, and endorphin-boosting exercise. Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Winter sun can damage your skin too.
- Start a Project or a New Hobby. Once the holidays are over, your calendar may be pretty open, and without weekend trips to the lake to look forward to, you may find you have extra time on your hands. Rather than spend that time watching Netflix or college basketball all winter, try a new hobby or start a project. Maybe it’s finally time to try skiing (which gets you active, outdoors, and exposed to sunlight), or repaint your guest room.
- Stay Warm. Being warm is a mood booster. While you may not have much control over the office thermostat, keep your home heated to a comfortable temperature, and warm your body from the inside out with warm foods and beverages, like healthy soups and decaffeinated teas.
- Don’t Let Your Diet Suffer. You may naturally feel more motivated to eat healthy during the summer when weekly trips to your local farmer’s market send you home with fresh fruits and veggies, but you have to keep the diet drive alive in winter too. While you may be more tempted to reach for high-calorie comfort food on cold days, make sure you’re fueling your body with healthy foods to keep your energy up.
- Sing a Song. Music has been proven to help improve one’s mood. On days when you’re just not feeling motivated, or when your daily commute through the snow has you on edge, pump your favorite tunes and sing along.
- Seek Exposure to Artificial Light. A light box or UV lamp that is designed to produce mood-boosting vitamin D rays has been scientifically proven to help boost your mood. These devices are inexpensive and are particularly helpful for those who work long hours indoors, or who experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder often triggered in the winter.
- Stay Social. A simple way to boost your mood in the winter is to surround yourself with people who make you happy. Make sure you’re spending time with family and friends during the winter. When winter driving can be unpredictable, it can be easy to cancel plans, or not make them in the first place. Make an effort to get out of the house and spend time with your loved ones. You’ll all benefit from time together doing activities you enjoy. Volunteering is another way to stay active, interact with your community, and give you a reason to smile.
- Get Out of Town. It may seem like cheating, but planning a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny during winter months can give you a temporary break from the monotony of winter and help you push through the rest of the season when you come home.
Talk to Your Doctor.
If you feel like nothing you’ve tried helps you improve your mood or keep you motivated during the winter, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with more complex forms of SAD and depression. Make an appointment to talk to your doctor. He/she can diagnose a more serious condition, and put a treatment plan in place to help you conquer your mood once and for all.
And remember depression might be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or postpartum depression or a Vitamin D deficiency. The team of physicians at Chouchani, Sayegh and Robinson MD are here to help diagnose any conditions and discuss treatment options. Give us a call today.