The Cure for Those End-of-Holidays Blues
When the frivolity and merrymaking of the holiday season come to an end, the short days and months of winter stretching ahead of you can easily dampen your once-joyous mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of recurrent depression linked to fall and winter months, affects about 500,000 Americans, but several million more experience a milder version of the winter blues. Luckily, there are several ways to be keep smiling until spring. Think of this as your stay-happy winter to-do list:
- Bolster your social calendar. One of the reasons January and February can be so tough is because the weeks seem to stretch on without beach vacations or barbecues to look forward to. Scheduling a weekly lunch date or movie night with friends will give you something to be excited about until that first thaw.
- Take your vitamin D and eat foods high in dopamine. Studies have shown that there’s a link between the severity of the winter blues and levels of Vitamin D. Making sure you get between 1,000 and 2,000 IU daily may help even out your gloomy mood. Same goes for dopamine. Increase your levels by eating food rich in dopamine-producing amino acids, like chicken, fish, almonds and avocados.
- Stock your fridge with fruits and veggies. According to a study of 80,000 people, loading up on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as prunes, blueberries, garlic, kale and strawberries go a long way in lessening anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.
- Soak in the sun. Boost your vitamin D the natural way by slipping out of your at-home hibernation to enjoy the great outdoors first thing in the morning. Early in the day is when your melatonin levels begin to wane, so going for a morning walk or snowshoeing with friends will give you the daily shot of light your body needs. If the temperatures dip too low or the ground is too icy, sitting near a window or turning on a light box for 30 minutes while you’re at home can also help.
- Hit the gym. About 60 minutes of daily cardio may be all you need to combat winter depression. In fact, it may be just as effective as light therapy. Researchers suggest that people should fit in three to five exercise sessions per week, for 45 to 60 minutes per session.
Photo credit: Bruce McKay