The summer is gone. Weeks of short days, freezing temperatures, gray skies, and snow everywhere. It’s no secret that winter can cause a dip in mood and can lead to everything from slight moodiness to a form of clinical depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Don’t fret! This season affects us all in many different ways. Everyone may experience these symptoms from time to time, but here are five tips to help improve your mood this winter. It may be gloomy outside, but your outlook doesn’t have to be.
Enjoy winter’s pleasures
Taking the time to savor the most amazing things about this season can make you happier. Next time your mind starts to drift toward your numb toes and nose, refocus on the positive and you’ll be able to sip tea in front of a crackling fire as soon as you get home. Do something physical, whether it’s a morning walk, a spin class after work or a gentle yoga session. It can be tough to muster the motivation to make it to the gym when the temperature is below zero. Treat your workout like a meeting…with yourself! A good trick to get you out of bed is to set everything out the night before, your workout gear and your running shoes are ready to be put on.
Try something new
Gaining new skills not only boosts self-esteem, but it also releases dopamine in the brain to boost drive, focus, and concentration. Play a different sport, learn a second language, or read a book on a new topic to excite your brain during the winter months. tart researching your next adventure – just thinking about it will be magic for your mood.
Brighten up your wardrobe
Sure, stuffing yourself into a down parka can make you feel like the abominable snowman, but winter could be a great opportunity to experiment with new colors and styles. Stock your closet some selections that have calming colors to brighten up your day. I mean wearing in black it’s always fashionable but that dark color may also be dragging down your mood. Color adjectives have been used to describe emotions in dozens of ways: “I feel blue” or “He was red with rage.” Instead of throwing on another black shirt today, put on yellow—it suggests warmth, sunshine, cheer, and optimism—or purple, which is associated with royalty, luxury, sophistication, and authority.
Get things done that you put off during summer
Before the weather takes a turn for the cold and holiday hustle ensues, take advantage of the cooler fall temperatures by tending to things like, auto repairs, home projects, pet care, medical visits, and financial assessments. When we make a decision to accomplish things we’ve put off and then follow through, we feel more in control and this reduces stress. Something as simple as taking a few hours to tidy up the yard, clean out the garage, get rid of clothes can elevate the mood.
Go out and see the light
Reduced exposure to daylight over the winter months is thought to play a crucial role in the development of SAD, as it disrupts our circadian rhythms and reduces serotonin production. Your body produces D—which has been shown to help regulate mood—when your skin is exposed to UVB light. But in the winter, the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough in the northern half of the United States to power D production. Ask your doc for a simple blood test to see if you’re deficient, and talk to her about taking a supplement if you are.
Beyond the D factor, sunlight increases levels of serotonin and also works to suppress melatonin, a chemical that makes you drowsy, explains Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Winter Blues. To get your fill, consider investing in a light box, which can help combat sluggishness. And be sure to pop outside whenever you do spot some rays.