Shorter winter days can leave some of us feeling a little blah during the cold weather months. The reason many of us feel more fatigued and sluggish this time of year is because of the lack of sunlight during the winter months. Between gray, snowy days, and the sun going down sooner, it can be hard to feel refreshed regardless of how much coffee you drink! The good news is, you don’t have to succumb to the winter blues. We have some tips for kicking the winter blues to the curb that will keep your mind and body happy until warmer, sunnier days arrive!
Top 5 Ways to Beat Your Grumpy Winter Mood
“Feeling blue for a period of time is not, per se, normal,” says Jacqueline Gollan, Ph.D., associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “When people feel blue, it’s a signal that something in their life needs attention.”
Everyday Health recommends the following for pulling yourself out of the winter blah.
1. Lace-Up Your Running Shoes and Get Moving
Getting at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity four times a week has been shown to reduce depressive mood, says Dr. Gollan. “And there are a variety of ways to get exercise,” she points out. Get a gym membership if that’s what it takes to keep you warm and working out, but you could also try riding your bike to work or running up and down the stairs.
2. Set Your Alarm Clock and Stick to a Sleep Routine
Tempting as it might be to sleep in on dark mornings, it’s best to stick with a regular sleep schedule — which means waking up at the same time on weekdays and weekends. Establish a routine wake-up time and a soothing bedtime ritual, and if you aren’t already in this habit, allow three or four weeks to get used to it, advises Gollan. It’s essential to get at least seven hours of sleep every night for your overall health, according to guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation. Also, make sure that your sleeping area is comfortable, slightly cool, and free of noisy distractions.
3. Queue Up a Stream of Laugh-Out-Loud Films
Experts believe that laughter actually stimulates processes in your brain that counter depressive symptoms. And since chuckling is downright contagious, you can invite a few pals over to share the popcorn.
4. Give Yourself a Manageable Task to Accomplish
It’s crucial to build activities into your day — even chores, like cleaning the floor — that will give you a sense of competence and accomplishment. Balance the hard work with little things that please you, like treating yourself with fresh flowers or, yes, that homemade cup of hot cocoa.
5. But Don’t Let Your To-Do List Get Too Out of Hand
Don’t overwhelm yourself with lists of projects and chores just because you can’t do other activities you might spend time doing in different seasons. If you love to garden in spring and summer as a stress-relieving activity, that doesn’t mean spending those same hours in the winter cleaning your closets is going to do you the same amount of good. Or be as enjoyable.
Complete the business you need to take care of, and do it on time.
“Behavioral activation is an important strategy,” says Gollan. Decide to stop procrastinating on the unpleasant stuff that could snowball into more stress later, like unpaid bills. Doing so gives you more time to do things you enjoy. Get the tools you need to get organized.
In the End
Feeling stuck indoors can cause feelings of stir craziness, especially if you’re unsure of what to do with the extra free time you have.A great way to boost your mental energy is by learning something new. You can do this by reading a new book, visiting a museum, or even participating in an educational course. Regardless of what new activity you pursue, you’re helping your brain stay sharp and positive feelings that can help you beat the winter blues.