Beating the Winter Blues
This time of year is chuck full of commitments to family and friends, stuck inside out of the winter weather, with short bouts of daylight where you feel like there just isn’t enough sunshine in your day. It can be overwhelming at best and depressing to say the least. With a stressful schedule and lack of sunshine, you deplete your serotonin levels and can feel lack luster in your daily life. Serotonin is a brain chemical that elevates your mood and improves your sense of wellbeing. There are chemicals to improve your serotonin levels, but you can also improve them naturally. If you are someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or have not felt yourself since the time change as daylight is no longer in abundance, try these techniques and see if you can improve your state of mind.
1) Diet. Eat foods with the ability to increase your serotonin levels: pineapple, eggs, cheese, salmon, nuts and seeds, and turkey (perfect holiday food)! Also, limit your sugar intake as it can take a big toll on your feel good chemicals. In the beginning low serotonin increases your craving for sugar and then eventually leads to insulin resistance and low energy.
2) Sunshine. Go outside after lunch during the brightest time of day and get 20 minutes of light therapy. If the weather is awful try the indoor lights for SAD to boost your mood.
3) Exercise. Indoors or outdoors has been proven to improve your mood in as little as 5 minutes.
4) Positive thinking. Practice the art of changing your mind consciously. Whenever you hear yourself complain about something, practice finding the silver-lining. If you hear yourself complain that you are tired of your being stuck at home; reframe the statement into, “I am so lucky that I have a roof over my head and to be able to feel the heat it provides”.
5) Gut Bacteria. Keeping a healthy gut has been shown to improve your serotonin levels. Eat a high-fiber diet and supplement with a probiotic.
Simple life style changes have been shown to improve your overall mood. If you struggle in the winter with depression and these don’t seem to help, see a professional and address your concerns with supplementation and health care strategies. You do not have to suffer, and you definitely don’t have to suffer alone.