Winter weather can be very troubling for some people, myself included. There is just something about the grey skies ominously looming over the sun that creates this somewhat hopeless environment. It takes me a second to muster up the energy to get myself out of bed and start moving. I am a big sunshine gal, so when the sun decides to hide, I find myself feeling unmotivated, low energy, and depressed— this is called seasonal depression. Oregon, primarily, is known for its overcast skies during December through early March. During this period, people need to keep a healthy mindset and stay busy. I have let it consume me in years past, but since last year, 2020, I have decided to instead load up on tasks and classes to get me through.
I know many people take this time to relax instead and stay cozy inside, but my recommendations are to do the complete opposite with, of course, a few off days. Distracting yourself in positive ways that will help you, in the long run, feel more accomplished and confident will keep your spirits high. Here are a few things I do to cure my seasonal depression.
You know what people say 30 minutes of exercise a day immediately improves your mood and positive thinking. Working out, whether it be taking a walk, going on a short run, hiking, dancing, lifting weights, etc., stimulates the production of dopamine, the feel-good hormones. January 2019 meta-analysis of 11 trials, published in Depression and Anxiety, concluded that regular aerobic exercise was an effective antidepressant intervention for adults diagnosed with major depression. Dopamine also helps with memory. Staying sharp both on your feet and brain cognition will boost your sad spirits.
It’s hard at the moment to see friends and family, but do not forget FaceTime and Zoom. Using these platforms will help you keep in contact with the people you are the closest with while also remaining safe during the pandemic. Interacting with others will enable you to share your feelings and introduce new ideas to help you fight off those lost or lonely feelings. Calling people also helps others cheer you up if you are sad or in need of advice. Just last night, I FaceTimed my two good friends and watched The Bachelor together. We were able to talk about the characters and laugh together like old times. It is critical to socialize, as it is human nature to seek human interactions— it makes us feel good.
Keep a Healthy Diet
The saying “You are what you eat” is so so true. Eating healthy during dark times will not only make you feel good, but it will give you the energy to take on the day. Eating foods with lots of protein like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, and legumes is shown to increase the amount of tyrosine and phenylalanine in the diet can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which may promote deep thinking and improve memory. Eating less saturated fats also causes many people to feel sluggish and heavy, so avoid these. Consuming probiotics and beans is also very healthy for your body, strengthening your gut from the inside out.
These essential tips will lead you on your way to a happier and more productive winter. You can also try meditation, listening to music, purchasing a sun lamp, and buying supplements. Good luck, and feel free to reach out if you are struggling with seasonal depression. I am always here to listen 🙂