Rid Yourself of the Winter Blues

December 30, 2016

Do you ever feel similar to a hibernating animal in winter? Find out why we feel this way and some tips to get you out of the funk!

Do you ever feel similar to a hibernating animal in winter? When the weather starts to cool off in fall until spring you crave fattier foods and have the feeling like you need to stock up? Well it’s not entirely clear whether the desire to eat more during winter is instinctive, due to our current food environment. SupermarketGuru has collected some of the top theories:

Is it SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs when we don’t get enough light, ie short winter days and long winter nights. If you’re feeling a bit down during winter and craving a lot of carbs, it could be SAD. Studies have demonstrated that the brain produces feeling of happiness when high-calorie, high-fat foods are consumed – but don’t rely on these foods to keep your mood up - or you’ll be on a mood rollercoaster and might pack on a few pounds; instead work on eating more whole unpackaged, unprocessed foods! Feeling this way might be a signal that you need to get outside when it’s bright, as well as eat more vitamin D rich foods like sardines. Omega-3 rich foods are also mood boosters, try flax, chia, salmon, and mackerel. Switch to complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, oats and even legumes and leafy greens to provide the body with steady energy, therefore balancing your mood.

Dr. Ira Ockene, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School told NPR that, “the tendency to overeat during the winter might come down to basic biology - winter eating could just be our primitive impulses urging us to stockpile for the cold months ahead.” In a 2005 study, Ockene found that food intake patterns and weight vary seasonally. Study participants consumed an average of 86 more calories daily in the fall, versus the spring. In the fall, total fat and saturated fat were greater than springtime consumption. Physical activity declined in winter.

SupermarketGuru has some tips to keep your mind and body in check during the winter:

Get moving, exercise can work wonders. Working up a sweat releases endorphins and will help give your mood a lift. You will feel good about yourself and if it was part of your resolutions to be more active, than you can also invoke a sense of accomplishment. It's a great way to get rid of the winter blues.

Your Z's! Getting enough sleep is key to a good mood and good health. Make it easier on your body by waking up and going to sleep as close to the same time every day as possible. A consistent routine will make the morning alarm a little more manageable. One the same note, sleeping too much can make you groggy, so try to get adequate sleep but don't overdo it.

Soak up some rays: Many studies have shown that sunshine is an effective and natural energy booster. If you live where there is sunshine (as sporadic as it may be in the winter) take advantage! Get outside for a bit and just enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Go for a walk or a run and you've got yourself a double dose of mood-lifting activities!

Get together with friends. Arrange to have coffee or a meal with friends, invite them over, invite yourself over to their house (hey, with some friends, it's a perfectly acceptable proposition). Surrounding yourself with people who love you, don't judge you, let you be you (however silly, childish, or ridiculous that may be), and who you know you can't stay in a bad mood around is an easy way to have fun, let your problems go and come out with an overall positive feeling. There's nothing quite like friends because you know they will be there for you, especially when the rain starts to pour.

You time. Carve out space in your day for you time. Make it a point to do something that makes you happy and makes you release whatever else is happening around you. If you have to schedule it in, do it. Eventually it will become routine, but it is a necessary part of your day and it is well deserved.

Laugh - At yourself, at a movie, read the comics, watch the comedy channel, heck, sit outside and people watch (you'd be amazed at how entertaining that can be). Laughing is a great stress reliever and the easiest way to get you smiling. Learn not to take life so seriously and have a little fun. Friends often come in handy for this one too!

And of course don’t forget good nutrition. Eat a variety of whole foods every day and take note of the tips mentioned above and you will sail through the winter free of the blues!