Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tips and Trends: 8 Proven Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Once the holidays are over, winter can seem to drag on and on for an eternity. Endless dark, grey days can be depressing, and cold weather can make it difficult to spend any time outdoors. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a proven seasonal pattern of depressive moods, where people may become moody, sad or depressed in winter months when there is a lack of natural light. This can lead to trouble sleeping, overeating and a lack of energy. Often called the "winter blues," these cold weather struggles can be difficult to manage but not impossible to beat. Here are 8 proven ways to beat the winter blues and keep your spirits high this winter. 

1. Aromatherapy 

Aromatherapy uses plant extracts and essential oils to improve your mood and emotions. These oils can be used in massage, a warm bath or in candles to reduce stress and release positive emotions. The scents generally believed to reduce stress are lavender, Rosemary, Spearmint, and Citrus. Try a few drops of one your favorite oil in a hot bath, light an aromatherapy candle in the living room, or use 10 drops of oil with 4 ounces of water to create a room spray to use in your home. Create a peaceful and relaxing oasis at home to rejuvenate after a long day and stay positive this winter.

2. Spend Time with Friends 

One of the best ways to combat the winter blues is to spend time with friends. Take time every weekend to schedule a few activities with friends during the week. If you plan things ahead of time you are much more likely to find the time, and make them happen. Spending an hour with friends, laughing together, going out to eat or going to a museum are great ways to lift your spirits and enjoy the winter months. 

3. Exercise 

Keeping up with your exercise routine during the winter months is so important. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. If you have limited time, or cannot get yourself motivated to go to the gym - do a workout at home to get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing. Try the workout above for a great routine you can do in your living room with just a set of dumbbells. 

4. Eat Smart 

During the winter months we often crave large amounts of carbs and comfort food. This can be a big challenge and can lead to weight gain, feeling sluggish and difficulty with digestion. Make it a goal this winter to eat a balanced diet and get plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein. Eat colorfully! Make sure every plate you make has a great variety of colors to ensure a balanced meal. Download the free app My Fitness Pal for a great way to track your daily percents of carbs, fats and protein and make sure you are getting enough of each macronutrient. 

5. Listen to Music 

Bose SoundTrue Audio Headphones

Listening to music can instantly change your mood. No mater what type of music you like, or what mood you are in, listening to a favorite song or calming melody can have surprising effects on the body. Research has shown that music calms nerves after a stressful day and can raise your spirits. Invest in high quality noise canceling headphones to enjoy your favorite music even more no matter where you are. Keep music readily available in your car and at home, so when you need a moment to recharge – your favorite song is ready to go!

6. Try a Light Box

Black Desk Light - SunBox
Consider purchasing a light box to use at work or at home, to combat seasonal affective disorder. Prescribed by many doctors and therapists, a light box can improve your mood and help lift your spirits. By simulating sun that naturally occurs in warmer months, a sun box can help fight the winter blues during dark, cold months. Some insurance companies may also reimburse you for the purchase, and light therapy is a proven method for improving your mood. 

7. Plan a Vacation 

Having a trip to look forward to is a great way to make the cold months go by faster. Plan a trip at some point during the first months of the year to give you something to hold onto during the endless, dark days. Many people choose to get away for a week or weekend to a warm, tropical place during winter months. This can be a great way to break up the long winter season. Once you get back from your getaway, post pictures around your home and apartment to keep the sunny days in the front of your mind. 

8. Spend Time Outside 

Even though the weather is cold, try to spend some time outside each day. Fresh air is just as important during winter months, so bundle up and go for a brisk jog through the park, walk  to get a cup of tea, or take a stroll through the street to window shop. If you enjoy winter sports, take this opportunity to go outdoor ice skating, skiing or snow shoeing. Embrace the cold and get moving outside to beat the winter blues. 

Leave your comments and questions below, and let me know YOUR favorite tip for beating the winter blues! 

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