The “Winter blues”, who hasn’t heard about them? They come up around the colder months, mostly in the northern countries where it is cold and gets dark earlier. You may not think you are suffering from the Winter blues or you may never have heard of them. Today I am sharing with you what they are and 5 ways to beat the Winter blues!
5 WAYS TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES
I had heard of them but thought they were a myth or an “excuse” some people made. That was before I moved to Austria and experienced the Winter blues myself for the first time. Portugal is a very sunny country, even in the wintertime. Unless it is really pouring rain, the sun is (for the most part) shining. It may not be very warm (and the Portuguese people like to think 12°C is considered cold), but the sun is shining. And that is important to combat the Winter blues.
The “Winter blues” are a seasonal depression and the scientific name is “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. I personally think they chose that name on purpose because feeling sad and blue are basically synonyms. Anyway, it is thought the major factor of Winter blues is how the body responds to daylight – or lack of it. See, a healthy body produces less melatonin – the sleep hormone – when it encounters light, making us wake up. During the Winter months, when the days are shorter and gloomier, there is not as much light. Hence, some people get depressed. But it’s not just about feeling depressed or sad! A person experiencing the Winter blues often feels lethargic, sleepy and craves food high in carbs and sugar. So, how do you beat it?
1. – GO INTO THE LIGHT (literally)
I know this is easier said than done when the days are so short, cold and unappealing. One way that you can counteract this, is by getting yourself a daylight lamp. There are actual lamps that mimic the bright sunlight, used for various therapies. My first contact with one was last year when I was having my pain therapy for Fibromyalgia and the doctor would turn the light on during the treatment. You are supposed to look directly at the light (don’t worry, the lamps used for this are safe on the eyes) for 10 to 20 minutes a day. It stimulates your body to produce more Vitamin D, which combats lethargy and depression associated with the Winter blues.
I personally turn on the photo box light I got a few years ago, but I don’t look directly at it! Instead, I position it facing me from the side at an angle, so that I can see the light from the corner of my eye. Then I just continue doing whatever I was doing for 10 minutes. I notice a huge difference! It is a cold light, just like the one my doctor had at the office and it does the trick. Still, if you want to go for the real deal, you can get a daylight lamp starting at 60€.
Personally, I love it when everything is covered in snow! I feel like everything feels lighter, brighter, happier! Sure, it isn’t all that glamorous in the city, when the streets are dirty and you risk slipping and falling on your ass in front of a ton of strangers. But in the countryside, or even just a park around the corner, it looks so beautiful and peaceful. I love going out when it snowed, camera on tow and some good boots on my feet – so I can actually jump into the snow.
2. – GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
I know, I know, that’s probably the last thing you want to do when it is cold outside. But the fresh air actually does help you fight the Winter blues. Why? Because it will “wake you up”, which is exactly the opposite of what the Winter blues do to you! Take a thermos bottle with a hot beverage of choice, bundle yourself up and go out for a walk. You can even take your camera a take photographs or just take the scenery in.
3. – TAKE YOUR VITAMINS
Ideally, everyone gets their share of vitamins from their food. Realistically, that is not the case. While I do think you should still keep an eye on your diet – as much as you feel like eating pasta all day every day, try sticking to once a week! – you should also invest in good vitamins. A normal multi-vitamin supplement is good enough for a healthy person. I also take fish oil capsules and zink, which boosts your immune system and helps prevent lower respiratory infections. I was also prescribed vitamin D and iron. However, I do think you should always speak to a doctor before you take vitamins extra to a normal multi-vitamin! I have an autoimmune disorder, chronic anemia, and asthma, which is why I was prescribed the supplements above.
4. – TURN ON THE COLORS
Something I notice during the Winter time is how people tend to gravitate to dark-colored coats. Seriously, as soon as the temperatures get really low, I only see people wearing black coats. Unless they’re ski coats, those are always very colorful (maybe so they can be spotted in the snow?) I got myself a camel colored winter coat last year and have loved it ever since!
It’s a “grownup” coat, made out of wool and cashmere and even though I was very skeptical about it keeping me warm in the Austrian Winter, it is the warmest coat I have. It breathes, goes with everything and still fits me at 9 months pregnant (though the last button stopped closing at the 7-month mark). I have to say, having a light coat definitely changes my mood! When I look at all the other coats walking around on the streets, they are almost all black. How depressing! If red or bright blue is more your jam – go for it. And if you don’t want to give up your black coat, invest in some colorful accessories! A bright scarf and a cute hat or beanie will keep you warm and still brighten up your mood.
5. – EMBRACE IT
Wait, I am telling you to embrace the Winter blues on a post where I am supposed to tell you how to fight it? YES! When the days are shorter and colder, take the opportunity to stay in, bundle up in blankets on the couch, get a hot chocolate and watch a movie. Or read a book, listen to some good music, light up some candles. Bake something with apple and cinnamon! The smells will linger in the air, instantly making you feel less “blue”. Take the time to pursue a new hobby or plan your next vacation. Just because it is cold and gloomy outside, doesn’t mean you cannot make yourself feel good on the inside!
These are my personal 5 ways to beat the Winter blues. What do you like to do when the days get colder and darker? Do you feel depressed once the Winter is here or do you love the snow as much as I do? Let me know what you think, I’d love to read your responses!