With the last lingering dregs of winter upon us, it can feel like spring will never arrive. The long, dark times of a Rochester winter can have a serious effect on people’s mood and health. Some people even develop SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, due to the low light of winter.
Whether you are suffering from SAD or just longing for the warmer days of spring, here are seven tips to get you through the final days of winter.
1. Try to Eat Healthy and Exercise
While we should eat healthy and exercise year-round, it can be especially important in winter. Eating right can be hard when winter sets in. The temptation to comfort ourselves with junk food like soda and candy gets even worse when the weather is gloomy for days or weeks on end.
However, a healthy diet can help your body and mind cope better with winter. Healthy carbohydrates like fruit, pasta, and rice can help you feel better during the long months of winter. And there are a lot of options out there, with the global wellness industry worth about $4.2 trillion. Check your local grocery store for pre-made healthy meals if you don’t have the energy to make them yourself.
Exercise is also challenging during winter, when it is often tougher to go outside or even drive to the gym. But exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and help fight depression. An hour of aerobic exercise outside is as good as two and a half hours of light treatment inside. In winter, you may need to get creative with outdoor exercise. However, even a snowball fight is great aerobic exercise and you can get your kids involved as well.
2. Get a Light Box
Light boxes are also highly effective for sufferers of SAD. A light box mimics the effect of real sunlight, thereby improving your mood and restricting the secretion of melatonin in your brain in winter.
If you are planning to use a light box, set aside 30 minutes to two hours per day. You may see improvement in as little as two weeks.
3. Make Sure You Are Sleeping Well
On average, an adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This is especially important in winter. The shorter, darker days prompt our bodies to produce more melatonin (as mentioned above), which can make us sleepier. Sleeping properly at night can, therefore, keep our bodies in balance and prevent us from getting excessively sleepy in winter.
If you are having trouble with fatigue in winter, try going to bed an hour earlier than usual. The extra hour can help you stay in balance during winter and fight off that extra melatonin.
4. Find Time To Relax
Winter might seem like a strange time for a vacation, but it may be just what you need to fight the winter blues. With most of us retiring around age 63, it’s clear we spend a lot of our time working. In winter, that can be especially depressing and stressful. Plan a little time away to relax and find some inner peace.
5. Get Creative
Being creative can stimulate the mind and improve your mood, especially if you do it with friends. Winter is a great time to host a creative get together. You could make holiday wreaths, bake, paint, or do anything else. Not only will being creative help keep your mind happy, but it will also allow you to get together with friends, which is a good way to avoid feeling lonely and isolated because of winter weather.
6. Drink Water
It might sound obvious, but you need to drink water during winter. Being dehydrated can not only make you feel bad emotionally, but it can also have harmful physical effects.
In winter, the air can be extremely dry, so keep an eye on your water intake. Try to drink when you wake up, as well as throughout the day. This will help keep your mind sharp and your body hydrated.
7. Be Grateful
Winter might feel like an odd time to feel grateful, but trying to find reasons to be thankful even in the darkest winter months is a good, healthy practice than can improve your mood and outlook. If you practice mindfulness or mediation, winter is a great time to put those practices to use.
If you don’t, simply try to find something you find beautiful or comforting about winter. Perhaps it’s a chance to wrap up in your favorite blanket. Perhaps the snow looks particularly beautiful and is worthy of a photo to share with friends. Perhaps you are just grateful to be warm and dry at home. We can all find reasons to be grateful, even when winter is trying to get us down.
Rochester winters can take a toll on both your mental and physical health. As we shake off the last few snowfalls and freezing nights during March, using some of these techniques can help you develop a positive mindset for the rest of the year. Soon enough, the warm weather and rejuvenating sunshine will be here and the dreary winter will be just a memory again.