Ward Off Winter Wallowing
Your lips aren’t the only things turning blue when winter hits. According to a study by the Cleveland Clinic, 10% to 20% of Americans suffer from the winter blues — three-quarters of whom are young to middle-aged women — while another 4% to 6% suffer from SAD (a highly appropriate acronym for “seasonal affective disorder”).
While SAD is a more serious problem that requires medical attention, the winter blues stem from more mild forms of sadness, fatigue, and loss of motivation that may be helped or prevented with a few simple tricks.
So next time howling winds and your colder-than-Edward-Cullen toes tempt you to hide under a quilt and watch Titanic, remember that just because it gets dark earlier and you spend more time inside doesn’t mean you have to go running to your bed as soon as you get home. Try one or two (or all!) of these tips to keep you feeling the winter appreciation of a snow day, even if you still technically have to go to work!
Massage: As if we needed a reason to get all cuddly with the bf, studies show that massages can be as effective as talk therapy for relieving depressive symptoms. Moderate pressure (not light stroking, which increases heart rate and provokes anxiety) lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, while alleviating hidden physiological and biological factors that relate to depression.
Arts and crafts: Since we already mentioned snow days, why not bring back another elementary school nostalgia through a scheduled time for creativity? Fixing up the house or making something new will make being stuck inside more appealing—and more fun! Try knitting a scarf to make the cold weather more bearable or adding some new pictures or artwork to the walls. Even bringing in a bunch of fresh flowers every week will remind you that life does continue through the dreary days.
Lighten up, brighten up: Even if being outside makes you long for summer, the winter sun isn’t any less therapeutic! Getting a dose of sunlight each day not only gives you a healthy boost of vitamin D, but also releases neurotransmitters that help improve your mood. Lift the blinds, take a walk, or get full spectrum light bulbs or a light box to fool your brain into thinking you’re sitting in the sun. Likewise, wearing bright colors, even if it’s just in the form of a red beret or hot pink mittens, will add some much needed splashes of color to the gray outside and help you feel more lively and alert.
Keep warm: It may sound like common sense to drink tea or put on a sweatshirt, but some studies show that keeping your body temp at a toasty level can actually reduce winter blues by half. A valid reason to buy a new winter coat or two, right?
Choose the right foods: We’d all love to reach for a tub of cookie dough and a glass of Pinot, but part of feeling better mentally means treating yourself well physically. Peppermint oil boosts energy and relieves sadness, pistachios help produce a stress-fighting amino acid, and foods like oatmeal, salmon, and lentils improve brain function while relieving crankiness and irritability.
xx, The FabFitFun Team