Are you feeling a little off lately? You’re not alone.
Why Do We Get the Mid-Winters Blues?
Many people find themselves struggling with low mood, fatigue, and anxiety after the holiday season comes to an end and winter has been in full swing. This is partially due to the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you are prone to SAD, or low mood as a result of the winter season, then mid-to-late winter can be especially tough because you have likely already been struggling for a month or two. 1 The following steps can help you get out of that post-holiday slump.
Focus on Nutrition & Hydration
It can be harder to prioritize eating plenty of fresh, whole foods during the winter months, especially if you are struggling mentally/emotionally. However, a lack of nutrients is one possible cause of low mood and fatigue. Focusing on nourishing yourself can make you feel better and more energized. Make it a priority to take care of your body by eating a balanced diet of nutrient dense foods and by including plenty of filtered water. Adding more foods that are high in tryptophan, such as poultry, salmon, eggs, and spinach increases serotonin levels in the body, which can improve mood. 2
Be in Nature
It is easy to just stay indoors during the winter months to avoid the dreary weather outside, but getting out into nature can have a positive effect on mood when you are feeling low. 3 Try taking a walk through a nearby park or nature reserve on a regular basis. This will get you moving, give you more exposure to natural light, and allow you the space to engage in mindfulness while you walk and appreciate your surroundings.
Try These Supplements
There are a few supplements that may help to keep seasonal low mood at bay. Vitamin D, B vitamin complex, and saffron supplements are all recommended for those struggling with SAD. 4 5 6 Note that B vitamins can have an effect on the way the body processes prescription antidepressants. If you are taking any prescription medication, speak to an ND before taking any supplements.
Start a Gratitude Practice
Taking the time to be mindful of the things that you are grateful for on a daily basis can help you feel better during the winter months when you might not feel like you have much to look forward to. Research shows that regular gratitude practice can significantly boost mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. 7 Try these simple ways to include gratitude in your daily routine:
- Start each morning by thinking of five things you are grateful for
- Make a habit of sending people thank-you notes or telling them you appreciate them
- Keep a gratitude journal where you list everything that brings you joy–these can be small things, like petting your dog or taking a soothing bath
- Notice when you start to feel unhappy and think of one thing to be grateful for
Please note that the above suggestions are not meant to treat severe feelings of depression. If you think that you are experiencing a mood disorder, a professional assessment and medication may be the best option for you. Additionally, if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, please seek immediate medical attention. Speak to a healthcare practitioner to determine what course of treatment is right for you.