It happens every year. As the days get shorter and nights get longer, your mood changes. You start to feel down for no apparent reason.
This happens to thousands of people every year in winter. The only difference lies in the degree to which they feel down.
Some experience full-blown depression while others simply seem to have the blues. They can’t shake off that low feeling no matter what they do.
If you feel that way every winter, you may be experiencing the winter blues. Those who don’t get affected by the winter blues may tell you to ‘snap out of it’ and you may begin to wonder if you are just imagining it. No, you’re not.
Experiencing the winter blues is real. Those who are affected by it can find it very difficult to snap out it.
That constant pervasive feeling of unhappiness without any rhyme or reason can be unsettling. It drains your energy and leaves you feeling fatigued all the time. Ultimately, it hampers your ability to get on with things.
Before talking about how to beat the winter blues, it may help to understand what causes the winter blues and how it is different from SAD.
What Causes the Winter Blues?
Lack of sunshine is the single main cause of the winter blues.
During winter, the sky is dark, the air is cold, and you just don’t get as much sunshine as you need. This is one of the reasons why lamp therapy is so effective.
Beat the Winter Blues with the Right Foods
When you’re cooped up indoors and feeling down, you are more likely to turn to foods that simply don’t help. All those comfort junk foods feel immensely satisfying during these times. Unfortunately, they only provide short-time comfort. In the end, they’ll make you feel even more unhappy.
The good news is that there are tasty foods that can help you beat the winter blues.
Vitamins and Nutrients to Look For
When you’re at the supermarket and looking at your options, choose foods that contain:
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D has been shown to prevent and reduce depression in some individuals. A deficiency in this vitamin is also linked to a number of illnesses and conditions including diabetes.
- Vitamin B – the vitamin B complex helps your body manage stress optimally. It also boosts your immune system.
- Folate – Folic acid helps regulate your blood flow. It also assists with sleep. Better sleep means a better ability to manage stress and control emotions. It means better physical and mental health.
- Omega Fatty Acids – Fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body and your brain. Studies have shown that people who experience winter depression are often low in omega fatty acids.
- Protein – Protein helps keep your blood sugar levels even. This means consistent energy throughout the day. Try to eat protein at every meal.
Foods to Add to Your Winter Shopping Cart
Salmon – Salmon is rich in vitamin D and omega fatty acids. It’s also protein. And salmon isn’t the only fish that contains these blues-busting nutrients. Mackerel and other cold-water fish do too. If you don’t like fish, eat plenty of nuts and seeds. They’re rich in protein.
Lentils and legumes – Lentils are rich in folate. They also have a number of B vitamins which help you manage stress.
Brown rice – Brown rice is packed with B vitamins and it’s a great source of fiber. It’ll keep your body feeling full and your blood sugar even.
Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale – Dark leafy greens contain a multitude of vitamins. They’re also a good source of fiber. Try to include at least one serving of dark leafy greens every day.
- Dark chocolate
- Vitamin D enriched milk or soymilk
- Whole grain enriched breakfast cereals
- Green tea
Steer clear of a diet that contains a lot of starchy carbs, white flour, and sugar. These can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes and low energy. Take care of your body and your mind this winter.
Beat the blues by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. Plan ahead and pack your cupboards and refrigerator with blues-busting foods this winter.
How Vitamin D Helps Fight the Winter Blues
If you struggle with bouts of sadness or depression, there may be a simple solution. Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and mood. Vitamin D is a vitamin our body doesn’t store. Each day we need a source of vitamin D or we become deficient. The good news is that getting enough vitamin D each day is easy.
The Vitamin D Link
Many studies have been done on the link between Vitamin D and depression. During the winter months the sun’s rays are weaker and often covered by clouds. This caused scientists to believe that it was the absence of light that caused depression. In a way they were right. The sun’s rays trigger our body to produce vitamin D.
When the sun isn’t strong, we don’t get enough exposure. Worse, when its cold outside we tend to go out covered up – if we go out at all. That means no sun and no vitamin D. The result is an effect on mood and overall health.
So what’s a person to do when the sun isn’t shining and its thirty degrees outside? The answer is two-fold. Eat foods that are high in vitamin D and take a supplement.
Foods That Contain Vitamin D
These foods are high in vitamin D compared to other foods:
· Fish like salmon and mackerel (note that when you eat the soft bones of fish like salmon you get more vitamin D)
· Fortified cow’s milk
· Shrimp and shellfish
· Fortified breakfast cereals
· There’s also a little vitamin D in potatoes
You’ll notice that vitamin D really isn’t present in many foods. Additionally, you’d have to eat a lot of fish and drink a lot of fortified milk to get enough.
The RDA is between 200 and 600 IUs depending on age. Supplementation is therefore the most logical answer during the winter months.
Most multivitamins don’t contain enough vitamin D. Check your label to make sure you’re getting at least 200 IUs or 5-15 mcg of vitamin D in your multivitamin. You can buy vitamin D supplements in your supermarket.
Consider, if you’re also not getting enough calcium, buying a combination vitamin D and calcium supplement. That way you’re making sure you get plenty of both.
Start taking Vitamin D right now. Don’t wait until you feel poorly or depressed. Take a vitamin D supplement. Get sun exposure when it’s possible and safe to do so. And eat foods that contain vitamin D. Getting enough vitamin D is a sure way to reduce winter depression. You may even prevent it altogether.
Use Aromatherapy to Battle the Blues
Have you ever walked into a room and felt instantly better? Maybe the scent of freshly baked bread was in the air. Maybe it smelled citrusy or calm like lavender. Scent has a powerful effect on your mood and emotions.
It can stimulate you into action. It can also relax you and induce sleep. If you struggle with the blues, you can use aromatherapy to improve your mood.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of scents to alter mood. You can use essential oils through a diffuser or even place them in diluted form directly on your skin. You can also use lotions or creams on your skin. Another option is to burn a candle with your favorite scent. Finally, some people like to steep the scent or brew a tea.
Scents Commonly Used to Treat Depression
While there are a number of combinations and scents used to elevate mood, relax, diffuse anger or create calm, these scents are commonly used specifically for depression:
· Clary sage
· Ylang ylang
The citrusy scents elevate mood and awaken the senses. Scents like jasmine and lavender induce a state of calm and relaxation. You may want to play with various scents to find which works best. Of course, you’ll also have personal preferences.
As mentioned you can use aromatherapy in a number of ways. You can combine essential oils into a bottle. With a dropper you can place the oils on the edge of your pillow or on clothing you’re wearing.
Take care not to place the oils on your skin, as some oils can cause a reaction in certain individuals. You can also simply inhale the essential oil blend.
Alternatively, you can add the essential oils to a lotion base. This will diffuse the strength of the oils so it’s safe for skin application. If you enjoy baths, you can add a drop or two of your choice essential oil to a bath and enjoy the calming effects. Or add them to unscented sea salts and add a cup of the salts to a hot bath.
There are a number of ways to enjoy aromatherapy and to reap the mood-enhancing benefits. You can also find blends or recipes on how to blend scents online. Or visit your local natural store and find recipes there.
Aromatherapy is a depression treatment that you can use each and every day. It’s safe and effective. Find your favorite scents or combination of scents and start feeling better today.
Add a Splash of Color to Your Home
Little things make a big difference. In fact, something as simple as a cheerful photo or a splash of color can change your perspective. During the winter months it can be difficult to think positively. Try these simple tricks to lighten the mood.
Paint – Color has been proven to affect mood. Cheerful colors like yellow, orange and purple can make you smile. Soft blues and greens can instill a sense of calm. You don’t have to go wild and paint your entire home. Simply paint a wall or two in your favorite room.
Add flowers – Flowers brighten any room and mood. Add a beautiful bouquet of your favorite flowers to a table. Make sure you can see them when you enter the room. Daisies and bouquets of mixed flowers are generally inexpensive and can last a long time on your table. Consider joining a flower of the month club so this delightful splash of color comes to you on a monthly basis.
Accessorize – Add throw pillows or an area rug to add color to a room. Many people change their home’s décor to compliment the season. You can add some brightly-colored items during the winter months to add cheer to your home. Find colors that make you smile and feel good. A little bit of cheer can go a long way during the gray winter days.
Light Colorful Candles -Consider candles. They provide more than aroma and light therapy. They come in every size, color and shape imaginable. You can add whimsy to your home, sophistication, or a modern edge – all while also adding color. Candles can brighten a room and your day. Look for candles that come in invigorating citrus scents and bright colors.
Add Colorful Photos, Paintings and Decorations – Find images that make you feel good. Choose colorful pictures to hang on your wall. It can be anything from a photo of a loved one or a piece of modern art. The key is to choose something that’s colorful and makes you smile.
Consider creating a collage of family photos and mounting them on a colorful background. You can frame this with a store-bought frame and have instant cheer and happy memories.
Sometimes a person needs a little extra help to beat the winter blues. Simply changing your environment and brightening your home can help. Make your home a place that makes you smile. Surround yourself with color and cheer.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.