It’s March, which means the highly anticipated spring and summer months are right around the corner! However, the dark, cold winter season tends to linger through the spring, especially in the great city of Chicago. Many people might even go as far to say that the winter season wears out its welcome.
During the cold season, we generally stay indoors and crave warming foods, many of which are heavier foods that help keep us insulated and grounded throughout the winter months. In a way, we are in a state of hibernation in which we slow down our lifestyles and isolate ourselves to stay warm. This slower lifestyle and the absence of the warm, bright sun can often have an effect on our mood. Thus, many people get the “winter blues.”
Here are a few quick tips that will help improve your mood and get you ready for the warm summer months:
Exercise as much as possible! This may seem like the very last thing you want to do; however, it is one of the most crucial things you can do to improve your mood. Whether it’s running on a treadmill, weight-lifting, exercising to a DVD in your living room or even cleaning your house, keep your body moving and stay off the couch! There are numerous studies that have indicated a drop in depressive symptoms due to exercise. Exercise can improve your self-esteem, lift your mood and increase your energy as well as release stress, anxiety and frustration.
Listen to Music
The power of music is absolutely amazing! Depending on the type of tune, music can put you in a totally different state of mind. You can pick from jazz, country, pop, rock, etc. I encourage you to put on your favorite “happy” tunes to help you escape your “winter blues.” Even better, dance to your favorite tunes to combine the power of music with exercise. Just remember to strive for an uplifting tune that gives you energy and fills you with happiness.
Eat a Healthy Diet
It’s important to eat a healthy diet regardless of time of year. However, the winter season makes it even more important to avoid foods that may lead to feelings of depression. I recommend eating a diet rich in fresh, seasonal foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals, not processed foods that have been stripped of their nutritional value. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, people have a 58 percent higher risk of depression if their diet is heavily made up of processed foods, such as sugary and fried foods, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.
During the cold months be sure to make an effort to socialize with friends and family. I recommend putting a date on the calendar every week that allows you to escape your winter isolation and enjoy the comfort of other people. You can socialize by talking on the phone, meeting someone for lunch/dinner, or even going to a café. The smallest gesture, such as a smile or hello from someone, can make a significant impact on your mood.
It’s not too late to brighten up your “winter blues.” These quick tips will not only help you through the rest of the season, but they will also help you maintain a happier and healthier lifestyle throughout the year.
Do you have the winter blues? Have you faced challenges getting through the winter season? Share your thoughts below.
Natalie Drugan, Founder of Brumberry and Certified Health Coach
Brumberry is my nutrition and lifestyle coaching practice. I offer coaching (in-person and by phone nationwide) to individuals and groups who want to improve their health and happiness. I empower individuals to make healthy and informed choices that significantly improve their diet and lifestyle.