We’ve all heard the expression, “having the winter blues,” a phrase that describes sad and lonely feelings that can be common in the colder months.
However, what you might not know is that this case of the blues can be very real, and it’s known as Seasonal Disaffected Disorder or SAD. SAD can affect your mood, increase stress and even make you feel depressed.
If you feel like you could use a pick-me-up, Simple Advisory Board wellness expert Dr. Josie Howard has four easy tips to help you maintain a sunnier disposition all winter long.
Let the Light In
When it gets dark early, it can feel like the whole day is getting away from you. Create your own light with candles in your home. While you may not be getting that summer sunshine, you can create an intimate and warm atmosphere that will feel cozy in colder weather.
For a stronger solution, Dr. Howard recommends picking up a broad-spectrum light therapy box, which is a special box that gives off a specific spectrum of light that’s designed to treat SAD, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“Sitting in front of this for the prescribed amount of time (which differs according to various boxes) first thing in the morning can make a huge difference,” says Dr. Howard.
It’s easy to pull the covers over your head when it’s dark and cold out, but regular aerobic exercise is essential for combatting SAD. Best of all, it doesn’t take hours of exercise to lift your mood.
“It takes relatively little time, just 20-30 minutes, five or more days per week to make a huge difference in your energy and outlook,” according to Dr. Howard.
Channel Your Inner Herbivore
In case you needed one more reason to eat your vegetables, Dr. Howard praised the effect a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can have on your mood.
“There is increasing recognition and research evidence pointing to the link between emotional wellbeing and robust fruit and veggie intake – and conversely, between intake of processed foods and depression.”
Of course eating your more produce can also help you feel good on this inside, as well as the outside. Nutrition expert Ellie Krieger says that eating more greens can help stop skin sensitivity and irritation.
There are plenty lots of delicious crops in season during the winter that will satisfy any cravings for hearty foods. Things like beans, squash and pumpkin are in abundance. Take advantage of the season and make a hearty stew in your slow cooker.
Hang with Your Friends
When Friday comes around, go out even if you don’t feel like it. Staying social is important to avoid feeling isolated during the winter.
“Set realistic goals — you don’t have to go out dancing all night; meeting up with a group of friends for a fireside chat is just as good,” says Dr. Howard.
Just because you don’t usually hear of SAD, doesn’t make it any less real. So if you’re not feeling like yourself, try some of Dr. Howard’s tips.
Whether your winter blues are mild, or whether you experience them to the extreme of a SAD diagnosis, give some of Dr. Howard’s tips a try if you’re not feeling quite like yourself as the colder weather sets in.