If you're starting to feel like tea or coffee is not doing much to energize you, join the club! Shorter days, colder temperatures, and piles of hardened, icy snow, can cause our mood to take a nosedive. It can be a really tough time of year. Throw in COVID and isolation and it could be a recipe for the winter blues.
Here are some scientifically proven ways of combatting the winter blues. ❄️
1. Make your environment brighter
According to studies, daylight can help lift your mood. Even sitting next to an artificial light - also called a light box - for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. For more natural light, open blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sit close to windows in your home.
2. Have a consistent sleep schedule
Light is most important component within our circadian system because our natural sleep schedule depends on exposure to daylight. When it's dark outside, specialized cells in our brain get us ready for sleep, making us tired.
When there is less daylight hours, our body wants to be sleeping.
So you'll want to create a regular sleep schedule that exposes you to sunlight and bright light when you wake up and throughout the morning.
And avoid spending time in front of screens before bed.
3. Play some music
A 2013 study found that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant's mood in both the short and long term. So go ahead and turn up your favourite upbeat tunes! Dancing allowed! 💃
4. Get outside
It can be tough to make it outside especially with weather and sometimes icy conditions. If you are safely able to get outside, the benefits are big. Spending time outside can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD and lower stress levels.
5. Help others
Reaching out to help others or volunteering your time towards a cause can improe mental health and life satisfaction. We may have to use some creativity to figure out ways to help while maintaining safety precautions. Is there a young person you could perhaps encourage with your life experiences? Struggling parents you can reach out to with a kind word of encouragement and support? There are so many ways we can offer help without leaving our homes. ❤️
6. Connect with friends in a safe manner
Even if cashflow is not an issue, you may want to consider selling your home especially as value has risen considerably in Ottawa. Maybe you want to set up your retirement or maybe you want to do some things you’ve always wanted to do. No matter what you want to to do, you might consider taking that money tied up in your larger home to make it work directly for you.
7. Move Your Body
It might feel especially hard to exercise with colder temperatures. It can be tempting to stay cozied up under a throw blanket. Just like sleep, exercise is important when it comes to regulating your circadian rhythm (24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions and processes). Have a set time where you can get some exercise, even if it's just for 5-10 minutes.
If lifestyle interventions like the ones listed above are not enough relief, consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor or mental health expert to determine if there are other ways you can receive the help you need.