Tips For Coping With Winter Blues
Does your mood shift with the weather? Our bodies take cues from light exposure and temperature, and while it’s not always pleasant, it isn’t unusual to find yourself struggling through the colder months.
To self-proclaimed ‘winter people’, we wish you well on your ensuing love affair with puffer jackets, scarves and heaters. To those of you running outside the instant a glimmer of sun finally peeks through the grey sky, here are some tips to support yourself through the wintery blues.
What are the winter blues?
The winter blues refer to a drop or change in your mood that accompanies the winter season. The lack of sunshine, short days, cold nights and rain can result in less serotonin and melatonin (the happy hormone and sleep hormone), leaving you feeling unmotivated and sad. Speaking of sad, seasonal affective disorder, or S.A.D, refers to a depression that hits with the cold weather – we’ll touch on this in a little bit, and if your sadness is feeling like depression or is very persistent, please seek further support. As for a case of the winter blues…
How to help boost your mood and energy in winter
Consider hormonal shifts
As the sun’s cycle changes, your circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’ can be thrown off. The sleep hormone melatonin takes cues from light exposure, and in darker months, your brain can become confused about when to release melatonin.
Exposure to natural light in the morning can vastly improve the quality of your sleep that night, so while it’s not always an option, do your best to soak up any sun you can in the morning. Maintaining a consistent sleep time and wake-up time can help your body understand when to feel sleepy or energised, so opting for consistency over ‘catching up’ with big sleep-ins could improve your energy overall. You may benefit from a melatonin supplement – speak to your pharmacist or doctor about this. RESCUE Sleep® can naturally help you switch off and wind down at night for deeper rest through winter.
Active serotonin levels can drop during winter. That is, the amount of serotonin your brain can access and use to feel good can drop, because the hormone is being redirected to your nerves as a response to less light.
You can build your serotonin levels by eating the right foods. A healthcare professional can help you understand what would be best to add to your diet, but as a start, you can look into foods that contain tryptophan which is broken down into serotonin, like turkey or cashews, or dark chocolate for some dopamine.
Exercise can also release feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, so keep moving! The cold can be a hurdle to changing into workout clothes and getting outside or into the gym, but ignoring that voice that tells you to stay still can help boost your mood. Even a quick at-home stretch or workout in your pyjamas is better than nothing! RESCUE Remedy® can help you feel calm and focused during times of emotional demand and stress.
Your cold-season routine may look different to your hot-season habits. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule, practice a skin-care routine to combat the cold air and dryness, and reassess your diet and supplements to make sure you’re getting foods high in vitamins C, B, D, Zinc, Omega 3 and more – a professional can help here too.
What is S.A.D?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a more severe experience of depression than the winter blues. Symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, social withdrawal, insomnia and changed appetite or weight. The above tips can help with S.A.D too, but please ensure you’re seeking further professional support if you’re struggling with feelings of overwhelm or depression for longer than two weeks.
The sun might not come out tomorrow, but it’s coming
The cold seasons can be challenging, but they’re never permanent. These habits may help alleviate sadness through winter, but you may still have some hard days. Be kind to yourself, and remember you’re up against some legitimate hormonal and environmental obstacles right now, and you’ll hopefully feel a bit better on the sunnier days to come.