I don't know about you, but I can only handle so much of the wintertime gloominess. After a while, the frigid winds, constant cloudiness, and piercing cold that you can never seem to shake really get to you. Even as the spring months approach, this time of year, it can be *so* hard to deal. If your mental health has taken a hit, I've got a few suggestions for ways to beat the late winter blues, thanks to Reddit and research-backed findings.
It's coming at a good time, too, because March is about the month where so many of us are all, "Yeah, it's been real. Where's the sunshine?" Depending on where you live, the weather may be doing this funky tango where one day, it's 70 degrees and sunny, and then next day, you've got two inches of snow and your car door is frozen shut. Mother Nature can't quite make up her mind right now, but the rest of us have: these wintertime blues are getting really old.
If you're feeling sad right now, know you're not alone. According to a paper by Steven D. Targum and Normal Rosenthal, six percent of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). An additional 14 percent experience more mild seasonal mood changes. People in northern climates are especially prone to a dip in their mood during the winter months.
If this sounds like you, here are eight ways you can fight it.
1. Experience Light Therapy
Sitting next to a box that gives off bright light and makes you feel better may sound too good to be true, but the power of light therapy is real. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's used to treat seasonal affective disorder (among other conditions, like sleep disorders), and can ease your winter blues when it's still too cold and too dark to get the warm rays you need. Light therapy supposedly affects the chemicals in your brain, helping counter your down-in-the-dumps feelings.
2. Up Your Vitamin D
Over and over again, science has found a connection between vitamin D and mental health, like this study by Lerner, Sharony, and Miodownik. Your body produces vitamin D when you're exposed to sunlight. Obviously, if you don't get any sunlight, your levels of vitamin D will probably go down. To make matters worse, Dr. Mercola says 85 percent of us are deficient in the first place. Try supplementing your nutrition with vitamin D, and you may just feel soem of the clouds lift from your life.
3. Participate In Forest Gazing
Sure, watching what were once bare naked trees start to sprout their first leaves and blossoms gives you something to look forward to; but do you know just how much nature can make you feel better? Research published on Nature.com found that people who live in neighborhoods with more trees had a better health perception and fewer cardio-metabolic conditions. Spending time outdoors can literally make you feel good inside.
4. Eat Chocolate
Science largely agrees chocolate is good for you. Research from Adam Drewnowski of the University of Michigan found that when you eat chocolate, your brain releases endorphins — chemicals that help you feel better. It's no wonder we want chocolate when we're stressed or sad. If the wintertime has got you feeling a little down, why not nibble on a piece (or 12) of chocolate?
5. Get Active
This should come as no surprise. For starters, engaging in winter sports could give you some of that much-needed sunlight (and therefore vitamin D). Secondly, exercise helps your body release endorphins, which in turn affect your mood. It goes even further than that, though. Research published in Public Health found that spending time in forest environments can have a positive effect on people suffering from stress and depression. Slip into those snow pants and hit the slopes.
6. Catch Some ZZZs
According to research from an online survey and shared on Fox News, people who took short naps (30 minutes or less) reported feeling happier than people who didn't. However, of important note is that people who took longer naps (over 30 minutes) seemed to feel less happy than anyone else. It stands to reason, then, that a quick cat nap could be the key to beating those late winter blues. Set an alarm, get cozy in bed, and try to doze off for a bit.
7. Get Your Namaste On
Research is abundant suggesting practicing your asanas could bring some happiness and positivity to your life. For example, one study published in Psychology, Health & Medicine found that doing your yoga postures could protect you against depressive symptoms, even if you're becoming increasingly stressed. Some people tend to dismiss yoga because it's "just stretching," but don't underestimate the power of posing when the late winter has you feeling a little... off.
8. Indulge In Your Favorite Comfort Foods
Did you know certain scents can evoke nostalgia? This is according to research published in Memory. This is why when I smell chocolate chip cookies baking, I immediately think of my grandma and her infamous cookies. If winter weather is putting a damper on your mental health, enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods that remind you of better times — like the chicken soup your mom used to make for you when you were a little kid. It might be the quick cozy fix you need.