6 Tips: Beating the Winter Blues

If wintertime makes you cringe, you’re definitely not alone.  Being outside in these freezing temperatures and brutal winds, and risking your life on those dangerous patches of ice, is not exactly the most enjoyable aspect of the season.

With that being said, how do you get through the rest of this winter’s chill without letting it compromise your mental health and well-being?  Read on for my 6 winter mood-boosting tips:

1)  Look on the bright side:  Although it’s mostly dark and dreary outside, it’s certainly true that the days are getting longer as spring approaches.  This means there is more opportunity for sunshine to peek through, which in turn increases your chances of being exposed to sunlight.  When this happens, your body produces Vitamin D, which is essential for your overall health and functioning.  If possible, take a quick walk before work or during your lunch break (make sure to bundle up!).  Read a book by the window on a weekend day, exposing yourself to the natural rays.  It may not be a lot, but it’s better than nothing.

Note:  For some, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can cause a change in your mood, particular to when the seasons change.  If you think you may be suffering from SAD, or may be Vitamin D deficient, I advise you to speak to a mental health professional and/or physician about obtaining an assessment and discussing treatment options.

2)  Picture it:  As we literally spring forward to the spring season, imagine yourself doing some outdoor activities you’d like to get back into once the weather perks up:  rollerblading, picnics, cycling, frisbee in the park, etc.  Visualizing yourself getting involved in such activities can help to increase your interest and motivation to actually pursue these enjoyable pastimes.  Jot them down to serve as a reminder, too.

3)  Try something new:  I know how tempting it is to curl up and hide under a blanket and to just sit for hours watching TV when this cold weather strikes.  However, being sedentary won’t do you too many favors.  Lack of exercise is one of the key contributing factors to increased depressive symptoms, which can be magnified during the winter months.  Trying a new activity could work wonders.  If you really don’t want to go outside, there are several video resources online (i.e.YouTube) that have loads of strength-training, cardio, and yoga exercises that can get you moving right in the privacy of your own home.  Try pilates.  Don’t know what that is?  Look it up and try it!

Or maybe you’re brave enough to face the cold directly this winter.  You can try skiing or snowboarding at one of the nearby mountains just outside of the city.  You don’t need to be an expert (the bunny slope counts, I promise!), but trying something new and sharing some laughs with friends while being active releases pleasurable endorphins, while also keeping you warm.

4)  Laugh:  Speaking of laughter, surround yourself with upbeat, positive people.  Go out to a comedy show.  Find humor where you can.  Laughter can be one of the best medicines for combating the winter blues.

5)  Take a trip:  A brief escape from winter can help us to feel renewed and energized enough to tackle the rest of the season when we come back to it!  If time and finances allow, a few days away to a warmer destination can help curb the blues.  Plus, it gives you something to look forward to.

6)  Eat healthily:  With cold and flu season here, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re eating nutrient-rich foods.  Try your best to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (be sure to add in lean meats, if your diet allows).  Foods high in Vitamin D, such as oranges or salmon, are also helpful.

For those of you who are true winter-birds, and seem to live for cold weather, I invite you to share some of your experiences in successfully making it through the winter season here in NYC.  Your insights can help the rest of us beat the winter blues.  Stay safe and warm, everybody!


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