Winter Blues Got You Down?

If you live somewhere that has winter, you’ve probably heard the term Winter Blues. People toss around other phrases such as cabin fever, being cooped up, polar vortex and one of my favorites, snow-mageddon. It seems as though many people talk about how their moods shift in the winter and can sometimes start feeling down. Other symptoms people describe may include: fatigued, bored, apathy, being less interested in activities you typically enjoy or loss of interested in those around you. It can also show up as craving carbohydrates or “comfort foods” with a side effect of unintentional weight gain. Winter blues are said to affect 10-20% of Americans, and in extreme cases Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
may occur, affecting around 5% of the population. So with winter blues being a fairly common occurrence what can you do to help improve your mood?

1. Expose yourself to plenty of Sunlight – Sunlight helps the body with production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body maintain higher levels of serotonin which is the hormone associated with elevated mood and wakefulness.

2. Be planful about healthy eating – Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals through plenty of vegetables and fruits and try to not over indulge in carbohydrates, sugar and certain types of fats. Carbs are critical for brain function but too many carbs can make you feel sluggish. Sugar should also be limited which is tough because if you look at food labels, it’s in everything! Sugar, as you know, will spike your “energy” levels then quickly drop off making you feel, once again, sluggish and often craving more. Fats are complicated an there will be a post later discussing them, but limit those which are associated with fried, processed and those considered “junk food”. If you are unsure of recommended portions, check with your doctor.

3. Exercise Regularly – Exercise is a great way to rejuvenate your body and release pleasure-inducing hormones. Even if you are tired, exercise can actually help you feel more awake. Kill two birds with one stone and go for a walk or strap on those snowshoes and go outside. Other great winter activities: ice-skating, cross-country skiing, shoveling, sledding and don’t forget to have fun!

So if you want to improve your mood, get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Written by Sonja Kromroy, MA, LPC