When colder weather and shorter days set in, you may experience changes in your mood. Feelings of fatigue or sadness, difficulty concentrating, and a disruption in your sleep schedule are common. These mood changes may be managed through simple lifestyle modifications.
Use any of these six methods to chase away the winter blues.
1. Eat the Right Foods
Pay attention to the food you eat. For instance, include protein with each meal to help prevent sugar and carb cravings. Also, consume foods high in vitamin D to balance your mood. Examples include fatty fish, fish oil, and vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, yogurt, and breakfast cereal.
2. Maintain a Sleep Schedule
Keep the same sleep routine as much as possible. Maintaining your circadian rhythm helps manage your cortisol rhythms, hormone production, and mood. For instance, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Also, take a bath, dim the lights, drink herbal tea, or follow another routine to signal rest. Additionally, sleep in a cool, darkroom. Consider avoiding electronic use in your bedroom.
Stay active for at least 30 minutes every day. Exercising boosts your mood, reduces stress, and decreases symptoms of depression. Aerobic exercise, strength training, yoga, or walking can help. If you do not feel motivated to work out for a half-hour, break up your activity into 10-minute intervals. Shorter “exercise snacks” can improve your motivation.
4. Call Family or Friends
Human contact and socialization are important to maintaining mental health. This is why talking on the phone with a family member, friend, coworker, or other members of your support system is beneficial. Finding time for a coffee date or lunch helps as well.
5. Get Exposure to Daylight
Spend as much time as possible in the sun. Getting outside to soak up the vitamin D helps increase melatonin production, balance serotonin activity, and regulate your circadian rhythms. Vitamin D can also improve your emotional state. If you need to be indoors, spend as much time as possible near a window that gets sunlight to enhance your mood.
6. Use Light Therapy
Purchase a lightbox, and sit in front of it each morning. Doing this for at least 20 minutes per day can elevate your emotional state. You can repeat the process as often as needed throughout the day.
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