Daylight savings, man. No matter how much you prepare for it, it comes in like a wrecking ball year after year. 5 pm rolls around and it basically looks like midnight — what gives? Dark when we leave for work and dark when we get home; the lack of sunshine can leave us feeling so “meh.” On the more serious side, this can actually result in seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression. But even if you don’t necessarily suffer from SAD, very few of us are immune to at least a small bout of winter blues.
So why does this happen?
Though the cold itself can be quite a downer, our moods are more affected by the lack of daylight. As daylight significantly decreases (especially for us living in the northern states and higher), our circadian rhythms can be impacted, with a down regulation in the production of serotonin and melatonin — and melatonin is essential for sleep and recovery.
But fret not, friends! Because while we can’t change this yearly occurrence, we CAN take action and do a few simple things to boost our spirits and feel like our higher-vibe selves again. To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite mood boosting tips to help you get through the cold and darker days.
Simple Mood Boosting Tips for Preventing The Winter Blues
meditate, meditate, meditate
call me a broken record, but meditation does work, even in very small doses. I’m not going to pretend its easy to make this one a habit, I still struggle with making it stick — but then again, it IS a practice. Meditation helps you sort through your thoughts and can be helpful in identifying your feelings and why you’re feeling them. Trust me, even just 3 minutes can bring euphoria. Make it a little extra and experiment with crystals and incense for fun
this is tricky for those working an standard work day, as you get the double dose of dark when going to and from work. So if you can, I urge you to get outside for even just 10 minutes during your lunch break. I encourage you to take advantage of spare time on the weekends; bundle up and go for a long wintry walk, or take up a new winter activity like snow shoeing or cross country skiing.
plan regular social outings
as easy/tempting as it is to stay hunkered down with netflix all late fall and winter, I highly recommend making plans with others outside of your home. Whether a weekly coffee outing, brunch, meeting a friend for a walk or going to a group fitness class – set an intention to do something social/in public (that isn’t work) at least once a week.
take up a new hobby
here I am again repeating myself, but for the love of goodness hear me when I say: Try a new hobby that is not exercise related or intellectually based. Meaning, do something for fun! Fitness classes and informational/self help books are great, but try something else just for the love of doing it. You won’t believe how happy you’ll feel spending time doing something for fun. Paint a picture, do a craft, read a juicy thriller, learn how to play an instrument, anything! The world is your hobby oyster.
make a playlist of your favorite dance hits and sing alongs
genre aside, we all have them. Those songs that make you air-microphone in the car and have oncoming traffic wonder if you’re having an episode. Or the songs that you dance around your living room to while your cat stares at you. Whatever, no shame. make a playlist with these golden tunes and listen to it whenever you’re feeling blue. Good mood guaranteed.
writing down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day is a great way to boost your spirits and induce a calm and happy state. This is by far one of the most simple, yet effective, actions you can take towards a more mindful happy life in general, despite the season.
increase your Vitamin D intake
whether through supplementation or eating Vitamin D rich foods, increasing our Vitamin D intake in the winter can be beneficial as we get less sunlight. This nutrient is important to our brain health and mood and in the winter we are more likely to suffer from a deficiency.
take a short nap
let’s be honest, does a nap ever make anything worse? No. So if you’re feeling little down and out, consider a short cat nap to recharge and settle the mind.
record and acknowledge your emotions
whether winter related or not, your emotions are valid. If you’re feeling some type of way, it can be helpful to journal out how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing. Make notes of what positively and negatively affects your mood. Acknowledge, address and learn from the way you feel.
watch a comedy
Laughter is great medicine. Not always the best, but pretty effective if you ask me. Might I suggest binging a few episodes of your favorite comedy? We have the Office, Parks and Rec and How I Met Your Mother on continual rotation year after year. It only takes a few laughs to have my mood on an upward climb.
Well friends, I could probably go on for days with ideas for improving your mood, but for now I will leave you with these and with this:
It’s normal and okay to feel some type of way as we lose daylight and the temperatures dip, BUT if you feel like its really inhibiting your daily activity, social life and ability to perform at work, consider seeking advice from a medical professional. It’s okay to ask for help!
But for the rest of us, Identifying the way you feel and why is a great first step, and from there you can experiment with what makes you feel better. You have the power to feel happy and aligned, sometimes it just takes a little more effort. I hope these suggestions help you and inspire you to take action in preventing the winter blues.
Let’s keep the conversation going: What are you favorite mood boosting activities? Leave a comment below!
until next time!