Do you find yourself struggling to work up the motivation to get things done during the winter months? Maybe you feel more lethargic and just not yourself? The shorter days of winter in New York can really affect our mood and overall mental wellbeing. So what can you do to shake the winter blues, lift your spirits and overcome the dark, gloomy winter days?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that has been linked to sharper thinking and better emotional health. Sunlight is a major source of Vitamin D, and experts say we should get outside for at least 10 to 30 minutes per day. Since we have less hours of sunlight during the winter months, we naturally have lower levels of Vitamin D. Getting outside can be tough when it’s cold, but there are other ways you can still get nutrients from the sunlight. You can drink your morning cup of coffee by the window, or set up your work area in a space of your home/office that is filled with natural sunlight. They also make lamps that simulate natural light to help.
Even though it’s cold outside, we can still find ways to get in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day. And you don’t need to pay for a gym membership to accomplish this. You can still bundle up and take a walk outside, or you can find plenty of indoor exercises, too. Walk up and down the stairs in your house a few times, or stick with some of the basics like sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, and planks. You can even do a quick google search of at-home workouts and find millions of articles or videos to follow along, kick-box the winter blues goodbye.
You may find yourself sleeping more during the winter months since it’s darker outside. Some doctors have even suggested that the darkness of winter disrupts our circadian rhythm (our “biological clock”), which affects our sleep-wake cycle. Try setting an alarm so you can get in the routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you’re finding it hard to get to sleep, try a new bedtime routine like putting your phone on silent and winding down with a cup of herbal tea.
Eating a healthy diet is important year-round, but maybe you find yourself slacking a little more in the winter. Making a slight adjustment to your diet can boost your overall mood. Eating more protein and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will give you more energy. You can also incorporate more Vitamin D into your diet to make up for the lack of sunlight we spoke about earlier. Things like fatty fish and fish oils are high in Vitamin D, but you can also find Vitamin D in some foods such as milk, orange juice, cereal and yogurts (check the Nutrition Facts on labels to be sure). Eating healthy is a good start to combating those winter blues.
If making some of these adjustments doesn’t seem to be boosting your mood, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help determine if you are experiencing the “winter blues”, or if it’s something more serious. If your mood starts to impact your work performance or other day-to-day tasks, you may have a depressive disorder like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A therapist will provide you support through the process, and will help you to identify coping skills that you can utilize for years to come. If you think psychotherapy may benefit you, feel free to reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.