Soup bowl iconYou can beat the winter blues!

Posted March 3, 2015

What a winter! Record-breaking snowfalls and freezing temperatures have been challenging us for weeks. Shoveling out, chopping ice, ice dams, leaky ceilings – how can we keep a positive attitude?

First of all, feeling a little down and tired in the winter is very normal. “Published scientific literature supports the connection between low sunlight exposure, low Vitamin D levels and depression. Therefore, it makes sense that living through a winter might make us feel less happy,” said Dr. Matthew Collins, Senior Medical Director at Fallon Health.

But there are things you can do to boost your mood and energy level.

  1. Exercise! It elevates your mood. If you can, try to exercise outside because you’ll burn more calories as your body works to stay warm. But if it’s too icy and cold, an indoor workout is just fine.
  2. Eat energy- and mood-boosting foods. Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, spinach, kale, canola oil and soybean oil), whole grains, vegetables, oatmeal and whole wheat pasta are great foods to increase your energy level and elevate your mood.
  3. Socialize. As tempting as it is to stay inside where it’s warm, you’re better off being with people. Go shopping or to the gym with a friend, go out for dinner with your neighbors, go to a movie with your kids.
  4. Are there unique characteristics about winter that you actually like? How about sitting by a warm, crackling fire during a snow storm? Sipping steaming hot cocoa? Enjoying the warm feeling of being wrapped in a blanket while watching a movie? Try to focus on these pleasant experiences that can only happen in the winter.
  5. Plan a trip. If it’s a weekend away to a warmer climate, or a vacation as far away as the summer, simply thinking about escaping can brighten your mood.
  6. Dress warmly. When you go outside, make sure you wear proper warm clothes. Your body won’t have to work as hard to stay warm and you won’t feel so sluggish.
  7. Get enough Vitamin D. With the reduced exposure to UVB light, your body doesn’t produce as much Vitamin D in the winter. Go outside in the sunlight whenever you get the chance. Ask your doctor about vitamin supplements. 
  8. Have fun! Go outside with your kids and build a snowman or a snow anything! Go for a walk, go ice skating, skiing or snowboarding. Try to enjoy the opportunities winter brings.

If you're concerned that your feeling down is more than just the "winter blues," talk to your doctor. Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder on the Healthwise Knowledgebase.

The information written about in this blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek care from a medical professional when you have a health concern.