The winter time can be an emotionally draining time for those us who live in the north. The cold and the darkness left behind by a sun that does us the pleasure of visiting only a few hours a day can feel quite depressing.
Where I live, Scandinavia, the winter blues is a very well known phenomenon. The general mood drops during the cold season. Some even become severely depressed (something called seasonal affective disorder).
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help elevate your mood during these (literally) dark times. Here are five I have tried myself and found to be effective. But first:
A disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. These advice are based on personal experience and second-hand information. They are not supposed to substitute for actual medical advice. If you are experiencing major depressive symptoms, seek the help of a medical professional.
1. Make some changes to your diet
One of the best things you can do for your health is to learn all you can about proper nutrition. What you eat becomes the building blocks of your body so your foods choices are of great importance. And when your body feels good it will have a positive impact on your mind.
Some general nutrition advice are: avoid empty carbs and white bread, instead choose whole grain. Avoid refined sugar like the ones found in cakes and candy. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make sure to drink enough water (about 2 liters a day).
When it comes to food that are good for the winter blues, look for food high in B6, B12, omega-3, tryptophan and vitamin D. Read more about what foods to eat here.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and has been studied and shown to have a wide range of positive effects on health, from reduced stress to slower aging. But most of all it helps people find inner peace and face the challenges of life with a bit more “zen”.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety for most of my life and I’ve found that few things help me better than meditation. During the dark and cold months of the year I appreciate meditation and the inner calm it brings even more.
This see a video beginner’s guide to meditation click here.
3. Invest in a light therapy lamp
If you cannot get your needed daily dose of daylight naturally, why not try artificial daylight? Light therapy lamps mimic the light of the sun and are used as a treatment for winter depression. Sitting one to three hours a day in front of this type of lamp can help ease the feelings of fatigue and depression associated with the winter blues.
I have personally bought a light therapy lamp and noticed an improvement in my energy level and general mood. Read more about light therapy and how to choose a lamp here.
This advice might be the hardest to follow. When you have the winter blues it can be hard to find the enthusiasm to do anything, let alone exercise. But physical activity has been proven to improve the symptoms of depression and improve general brain health. Exercising regularly is one of the best habits you can develop to take care of both body and mind.
Try exercising in the morning (preferably outside or near a window in the hours after the sun has gone up so that you can get some sunlight in the process). You will likely be left feeling refreshed and energized to go on with your day.
5. Travel to the sun
If you have the possibility and can afford it, consider making a trip to a sunnier place. In addition to giving you some well-needed warmth and sunlight, taking a sunny vacation gives you a break from routine and the stress of everyday life.
I’ve had some of my most interesting and uplifting experiences while travelling. It is a great way to make memories for life.