Let’s face it, Winter has long-been the time of the year that we “allow” some extra leeway to ourselves in the health and wellness department. Temperatures get cooler, clothes get baggier, comfort food makes its way back into your friend circle, sleep sounds better and better each day, and motivation is as limited as the daylight.
But what if I told you there are scientifically proven methods to avoid falling into the winter-blues trap; would you believe me?
Well you should.
Here are FIVE things you can do to boost your mood and increase your physical and mental health during a time that you may think it’s impossible.
1. Eat more carbs!
Yep, I said it. But there’s a caveat – bear with me. Carbs help increase serotonin (the feel good chemical in your brain), which typically decreases with the lack of sunlight; that’s why you might notice an increase in cravings around this time of year.
BUT too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, so here’s my suggestion: stick to lean protein (lean meats, dairy, tofu, etc.) in the beginning of the day and save your carb cravings for later when your mood starts to shift. Try focusing on fiber and vitamin rich carbohydrates like potatoes, veggies, fruits, and whole grains, but feel free to sprinkle in your sweet-tooth cravings here and there to keep your heart happy.
Bonus tip: going outside, sitting by a window, or sitting in front of a sun lamp for 20 minutes per day has also proven to increase serotonin levels.
I know you know this was coming, but it’s been scientifically proven time and time again that exercise significantly increases your mood.
On top of that, researchers discovered that production of adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase (ATLPL), a chemical that promotes fat storage, almost DOUBLED during winter months. Good news is, exercise may increase skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase (SMLPL), the muscle enzyme that promotes the burning of fat… In other words, exercise helps fight off your body’s seasonal desire to store body fat.
3. Lay off the baggy clothes.
HOLD ON, don’t come for my jugular just yet – hear me out. I love a cozy sweater and some leggings just as much as the next person, but studies have shown when you consciously choose to wear more form fitting clothes (at least time to time), you’re less likely to “let yourself go”. Trust me, it’ll be worth it when you bust out your summer clothes and they fit better than you thought they would.
4. Focus on the positive.
I’m 100% not a fan of the cold, BUT I can’t deny the beauty of winter. Not convinced? Google pictures of winter – it’s serene. Hey, maybe you could get into photography!
Another positive that’s even more convincing? This:
5. Get outside.
I know it’s cold, I know taking 78 years to dress your kids in their snow suits for 10 minutes of fun in the snow doesn’t seem worth it, and I know it’s much easier to sit inside – but that’s not going to do anything for your mental or physical health… and it’s boring.
Put on some long johns, grab your snow gear, wear 7 jackets if you have to, but do your best to spend some time outside. After all, especially if you’re a Midwesterner like me, you’ll be dying to get outside and get some fresh air come February, anyway.
Here ere are few neat ways to burn some extra calories while making the most of the cool months (found from this article):
- Build a fire (80 cals in 30 mins)
- Have a snowball fight (96 cals in 30 mins)
- Go ice skating (176 cals in 30 mins)
- Shovel snow (192 cals in 30 mins)
- Go sledding (224 cals in 30 mins)
- Go cross-country skiing (256 cals in 30 mins
Look, winter isn’t going anywhere, and unless you’re planning to move to the sunshine state in the next couple months – neither are you. So get your layers on, find some kind of winter activity that at least makes you smile, and don’t fall into the winter-blues trap.
What’s that saying again? If you can’t beat em’, join em’.
Till’ Next Time,
Read more blog posts here.