5 Ways to Brighten Your Winter Blues

by Nestlé Health Science

Being cooped up inside when it’s chilly and gloomy out can have anyone feeling a little down. Thankfully, hope is not lost! From exercising to eating healthier, and even utilizing light therapy, there are little lifestyle changes you can make during the coldest months of the year to help brighten your winter blues.


Soak up some natural sunlight

Throw on your winter coat, grab a hat and gloves and get outside! Natural light increases your Vitamin D, can help you sleep better at night, and can even elevate your mood,1 but if you don’t like the cold, sitting near a window that gets adequate light for a total of one or two hours a day will also help give you a sunnier disposition. 

TIP: If you can’t take advantage of the sun’s rays the natural way, adding more light sources to your home and/or investing in a light therapy lamp are good workarounds to lightening your mood.


Get a quality night’s sleep

Reduced sunlight in the winter can mess with your circadian rhythms, leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep at night, ultimately causing fatigue and irritability during the day. Thankfully you can avoid these unwanted side effects and catch more zzzzzs by:

  • Sticking to a set sleep schedule, keeping when you go to bed and when you wake up consistent
  • Enjoying some early morning sunlight (shortly after the sun rises if possible)
  • Resisting the urge to take a midday nap
  • Expending extra energy during the day with exercise, preferably outside (more on that below)
  • Avoiding alcohol and food too close to your normal bedtime
  • Testing out a bedroom humidifier
  • Not overheating your home or piling on too many layers while you sleep


Make time for fitness

A brisk walk outside is the perfect way to get your heart rate up, improve your mood, get better quality sleep, reduce stress and get the natural sunlight your body craves this time of year, but if avoiding the cold is more your speed, dancing, yoga and swimming indoors are all great ways to get the recommended 2.5 to five hours of moderate-intensity exercise recommended by experts each week.2


Commit to eating healthier

It may be tempting to overindulge in comfort food and hibernate in the wintertime, but following a balanced diet will help keep your body happy and healthy by giving it the vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients it needs to thrive.
Make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need all winter long with BOOST® Balanced Nutritional Drinks, which provide you with protein, vitamins and minerals you need each and every day, including vitamins C and D, zinc, selenium and iron, key nutrients for immune support.


Connect with loved ones

A strong support system is a must any time of year, but especially during the winter months when people are more prone to staying inside where it’s warm and cozy. Isolation can make winter blues much worse, so whether it’s a phone call, a video chat or even an outdoor stroll, staying connected to family and friends is a must.
Could it be seasonal depression?


If your winter blues start taking over every aspect of your life, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter or seasonal depression. SAD begins and ends the same time each year, starting in the fall and continuing through winter, and may be caused in part by a decrease in natural light. Symptoms, which generally start out mild and worsen, may include3

  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain
  • Low energy
  • Feelings of depression most of the day
  • Losing interest in activities you once cared about
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping


If you think you may have seasonal affective disorder, we recommend contacting your healthcare professional so they can work with you to create and implement a treatment plan as soon as possible.

 

References/Resources:
1 https://sustainability.ncsu.edu/blog/changeyourstate/benefits-of-natural-light/ 
2 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/new-exercise-guidelines-suggest-older-adults-try-a-variety-of-activities
3 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
 


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