Winter is here, and with it comes colder days, darker mornings and even darker evenings. If you find this seasonal shift makes you feel sad and sluggish, you’re not alone. The winter blues are a real thing.
Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that keeps your brain up to speed and helps put you in a good mood. When the days get shorter, your serotonin production drops and you release more melatonin, a hormone linked to sleep.1 This chemical change can leave you feeling tired and more than a little down. So what can you do? Here are some tips to help you beat the winter blues.
1) Shake a leg
When you’re feeling down, the last thing you may want to do is move. But movement and regular exercise can help relieve stress, improve mood and increase energy, so it’s important to keep up your physical activity—even in winter. There’s no one-size-fits-all exercise routine, so focus on an activity that makes you feel good, and that you know you can maintain over time.
2) Skip the junk food
Food is fuel for your body, and what you eat influences how you feel. Eat regular meals to keep your blood sugar stable and include a variety of foods: Whole grains and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats will help keep up your mood and energy. Limit intake of junk food and sugary snacks.
3) Catch those Z’s
Make your sleep schedule a priority. Sleep allows your mind and body to rest and restore. Getting too little or too much sleep can amplify your irritability and make it hard to think and focus. Try to get 7-9 hours at the same time every night. You may find you feel a lot better.
4) Get some fresh air
Try to go outside as often as you can, especially on brighter days. Since the winter blues are linked to a shortage of sunlight, it’s not surprising that more light can help. It may be cold, but it’s worth it. Bundle up, step outside and get some sunlight and fresh air. You may find your energy improves, your stress is reduced and you start to get better sleep.
5) Take the right vitamins
If you’re not getting the vitamins and nutrients you need, it can affect your mood and energy. Vitamin D, folic acid, magnesium, and others are linked to better emotional and mental health. Supplementing with vitamins can help fill nutrition gaps that can be hard to fill with food alone. Take Persona’s 5-minute assessment to find a personalized program for you.
6) Practice self-care
Take some time for yourself. Prioritize the things that make you feel good and keep you motivated. Meditate to help manage stress, find an activity that makes you laugh, and be intentional about surrounding yourself with people who support you and bring out your best.
Gabby is a nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues through diet.
Gabby is just one of Persona’s team of qualified nutritionists. Do you have questions about nutrition? Reach out. Our experts would love to help.