10 Tips to Beat the Winter Blahs

March 27, 2014 Updated: March 27, 2014

Most of us feel the winter blues from time to time and we don’t have our usual energy or drive, we don’t feel sick, but we don’t feel great either.We feel blah. This can lead to sleeping more and turning to carb-laden comfort foods.

Normally, as the days begin to get longer, and sunlight reappears, these feelings subside. But as we are still a long way from the warm glow of summer sun, there are 10 things we can do to get out of the winter funk.

1. Take a Sunshine Vitamin

If you can’t get your normal daily dose of sunshine, take vitamin D. In studies, taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D every day, helped people with SAD see improvements in their mood.

2. Socialize

Get off the couch, get off the computer, and get together with real people! After the social whirl of the holidays, you may want some quiet time, but not too much. Being isolated can make you feel lonely and depressed. It may seem like a huge effort to get together with people, but do it. It will be good for you.

If all your friends are busy, then do something different for yourself. There are always plenty of organizations that can use your help, or classes you can take. The more you withdraw, the worse you will feel.

3. Set Goals

New Year’s resolutions are even more depressing when you break them, so set some achievable goals instead.

Healthy behaviors lead to healthy emotions. Some simple health-related goals would do you the world of good.

Think about exercising. You don’t have to join a gym or crank up some disco music and dance until you drop. Run up and down stairs a few times, stop smoking, and cut back on alcohol. Whatever you do, keep track of it and give yourself a round of applause when you achieve your goal.

4. Get Moving

There’s a reason why doctors tell you to exercise. It can boost your feelings of well-being, help you stay positive, and even boost your drained energy by upping your brain’s feel-good chemicals.

Yes, it’s cold outside, but once you have bundled up, there are some fun things to do. Even a walk around the block will clear the cobwebs, and you never know, you might enjoy a snowball fight, sledding, or ice-skating.

If not, you can walk to the rink, treat yourself to a hot chocolate, and watch the others. At least you will be outside in some fresh air and hopefully get a little bit of sunshine.

5. Sleep Tight

Even though you feel lethargic and sleepy, you may not be getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. A melatonin supplement may help. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle, which can be thrown off by the shorter winter days.

People often take melatonin to get over jet lag. Everyone has a different optimal time to take melatonin, so discuss it with your health professional to find out when it would be best for you.

6. Light Up Your Life

Talk a walk in the sunlight whenever you can. Morning light exposure is especially effective. But if that’s not enough, a light box that simulates sunlight can help regulate the brain chemicals that affect your mood. Even half an hour a day can help. Many patients with SAD find a light box to be around 70 percent effective.

7. Try Aromatherapy

Our sense of smell can trigger all kinds of positive and negative emotions. Even if you don’t believe it will do anything for you, aromatherapy oils just smell good.

Whether you put them in a diffuser to permeate your room of use a few drops in a relaxing bath, the lovely aromas of lavender, bergamot, jasmine, or neroli will make your home smell delicious and may lift your spirits too.

8. Treat Yourself

A little indulgence will go a long way. Just don’t overdo it. If one of your goals was to lose weight, you don’t want to blow it, but there’s not much a little chocolate won’t fix. Think dark chocolate—70 percent or more of cocoa will help boost dopamine levels in your brain.

9. Try Alterative Therapy

A spa day could be just you thing you need to get rid of those winter blahs. Massages have been shown to lower depression by over 50 percent by reducing stress hormones and increasing the depression-fighting chemicals serotonin and dopamine.

Acupuncture has also been used very successfully to help overcome anxiety and depression, as it helps put your body back in balance.

10. Laughter: The Best Medicine

There’s nothing like a good laugh to make you feel better. Find a ridiculously funny movie to watch, check out a local comedy club, or call a friend who always makes you laugh. Remember the saying: “Laugh and the world laugh’s with you. Cry and you cry alone.”

And remember, spring and summer are just around the corner.

Eco18 is a collective of creative-writing individuals from different backgrounds with a common goal—to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Their combined expertise, humor, and opinions explore green and sustainable in a practical, fun way. www.eco18.com