Winter is a wonderful time of year full of lights, love, and magic. However not all of us experience the winter months the same way. The cold weather and loss of daylight does affect our human bodies. During this time of year it is common for people to experience fatigue, brain fog, difficulty sleeping, and even sadness. Some individuals only experience this mood change temporarily, yet others find symptoms more severe. That is when the winter blues become Seasonal Affective Disorder. However there are things that you can do when you are not feeling so jolly. Here are four ways to help you combat the winter blues.
Soak up some vitamin D
During the winter season there is a risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D allows our bodies to fight infections, and it is essential for our health. The winter time is when we need vitamin D the most, yet it is also the time of year when it is the most challenging to get it. Despite the lack of daylight in the winter there are other ways we can get vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin can be found in some foods. Salmon, trout, and other fortified milks contain vitamin D. If those food options are not appealing to you then you can also take vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D supplements come in a variety of forms, yet they are a great way to get the vitamin D that your body needs.
The cold weather can make us feel unmotivated to leave the comfort of our warm and cozy bed. Some of us tend to adopt the attitude of human hibernation. We tend to eat more and do less. However, if we remain active during the winter season our bodies will feel more confident in the spring and summer. Incorporating an exercise routine does not have to look like spending hours at a gym, or running mile after mile in brisk weather. Incorporating a healthy exercise regimen can look like doing a twenty-minute yoga YouTube video on your phone in your living room. Or it could be doing a fifteen-minute weight lifting set. Taking the time to break a sweat and get your heart rate up on a consistent basis is vital not only for our physical health, but also our mental health. By taking the time to exercise regularly, food cravings will subside and motivation will increase.
Changing your attitude towards winter
Statistics show that in Scandinavian countries there are lower rates of seasonal depression? Why is that? It is because their approach towards winter is different. People who live in countries such as Norway or Sweden actually enjoy the winter season. They focus on the fact that the winter months give us different things to enjoy such as snow sports, hot drinks, and warm nights by the fire. By focusing on the positive things that winter has to offer we can change our attitude of enduring winter to enjoying it.
Nurture your spirit
Everyone has different hobbies and ways of winding down. For extroverts, throwing a holiday bash or going out to a lovely dinner with friends is a great way to lift up our spirits during the cold and dark evenings. On the other hand, introverts will much rather enjoy a peaceful night reading, watching a movie, or doing something craftsy either on their own or with a few of their friends or family. People recharge differently on their own individual scale, whether that be laughing the night away with the besties or taking a self-care night, each moment of taking the time to relax and be happy is important for our well being.
The winter blues affect all of us differently. Just as some days are colder than others, some days are more mentally taxing. The important thing to remember during the cold and darker days is that this is just a season. Emotions change just as seasons do. Fall faded to winter, and the hope of spring is around the corner. As we wait for the warmer months, let us try to change our mindset towards the winter. Although there is darkness and cold, there are still special things that only winter can offer. The winter blues may get us down from time to time, but instead of enduring the winter let us try to find ways to enjoy it.
If you’re looking to connect and strengthen spiritually during this season, we invite you into this simple practice of prayer. Light a candle, plant yourself firmly and comfortably, and reflect on these words:
Gentle God of love, help us reach out together for the light of faith, for renewal and recovery and a new day coming.
Grant that hope may come to rest in our hearts, and let it go forth with us into the darkness,
this night and in the nights to come, until we see the light of the new season and the freshness of dawn.
(Prayer from The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu Hawaii.)