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NOV

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues (According to Science)

Filed Under: Ask The ND,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 4:58 pm | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Young Caucasian woman looking in the window in winter

Bears aren’t the only ones who “hibernate” in the wintertime! As the days get colder & we’re less exposed to sunlight, it’s common to experience the “winter blues.” You may feel a lack of energy, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, changes in your appetite & an overall lack of motivation.

While these are all normal responses to less sunlight, some might experience these symptoms on a more extreme level through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of major depression, bipolar I or II disorder that displays a pattern that recurs with the seasons. Those more at risk for developing SAD are women, those living far from the equator or people who have a family history of depression.

If you’re feeling the blues this winter, try working these tips into your wellness regime to help feel better naturally!

1. Light therapy or Bright Light Therapy (BLT)

If you have a hard time filling your space with natural light, consider using a light therapy box. They emit full spectrum light similar to the sun & are best used for 20-60 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. While you may feel the benefits in a few days, it’s important to use consistently to prevent symptoms from returning. Although safe, side effects can occur from light therapy (generally less severe than prescription medications) so always use under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

2. Exercise & meditation

You’ve been told countless times about the importance of exercise, but the endorphins released during your workouts are especially effective at improving your mood. You can also incorporate meditation & yoga into your routine to better manage stress and depression.

3. Nourish your body with whole foods

While sweets might seem like the answer to all life’s struggles, know that the “happiness effect” you might perceive is only temporary. Ultimately, spiking your blood sugar levels will cause inflammation & leave you feeling worse, so nourish your body with whole foods like leafy greens & antioxidant-rich fruits.

4. Get enough Vitamin D

Many people suffering from winter blues have deficient levels of Vitamin D. Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels & add a supplement to your diet if you’re lacking. Even though it’s cold, taking a quick walk outside in the sunlight during the day can help you feel better.

5. Socialize & connect with others

You’re probably not the only one who feels down in the wintertime, so talk to family & friends about the way you’re feeling. The act of sharing your feelings alone might help you feel better! If your symptoms worsen & interfere with your daily life, be sure to reach out to a professional for help.

While the gloom and gray of winter might leave you longing for the summer sun, don’t let it stop you from being active and socializing with friends! Take advantage of what every season has to offer and approach it with a positive attitude.




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