If you associate winters with sleepiness and the urge to stay in bed more than usual, you would probably share that with a majority of the population. However, for some people, the change in season from summer to fall or fall to winter can come with a lot more. Some struggle with a lack of energy, low moods, and much lower productivity. For others, it could manifest in difficulty sleeping, overeating and social withdrawal. And for a select few, these ‘winter’ blues can even show up in the spring – summertime sadness seems to be a real thing. People deal with these seasonal mood changes in myriad different ways – some simply move to warmer climates in the winter. If you’re looking for something a little easier on the pocket, we spoke to some experts to round up tips on beating the winter blues or at least making them easier to deal with.
It’s common knowledge that nutrient deficiencies can affect mood, but did you know that changes in the weather can affect how much you absorb certain nutrients too? Diets also often change over the seasons, which means you might find yourself lower on particular nutrients on a seasonal basis. Here are some vitamins to look into:
Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet says, “Vitamin C is well known for its immune-boosting capabilities, but it is nearly just as effective at boosting and stabilizing your mood. It is necessary for making dopamine and serotonin.” While you could go the supplement route, Richards says that you can also tweak your diet. “Begin consuming vitamin C rich foods like strawberries, citrus, sweet potatoes, and broccoli around the changing of the seasons.”
Zinc, Magnesium, and Selenium
Zinc, magnesium, and selenium are minerals that probably don’t get as much credit as they should. Studies suggest that a combination of the 3 could work as a mood elevator. If you’re not keen on the supplementation route, you could also add mineral-rich foods to your diet. Zinc is found in beans, nuts, red meat, and dairy. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of magnesium. Selenium can be found in seafood, bread, poultry, fish and eggs.
Vitamin D deficiencies are surprisingly common because of the amount of time that the average person now spends indoors. Says Vinay Amin, founder of Eu Natural, “Many people do not get enough exposure to the sun, due to sun sensitivity, work environment, or any number of other factors. This can cause mood changes due to vitamin D deficiency.” If you feel like this might be the case, it could help to get tested for a vitamin D deficiency and begin supplementation.
The importance of B vitamins is now common knowledge, but their effect on mood is not often discussed. Says Amin, “Certain seasons may cause our bodies to slow down due to the cold. In this case, taking riboflavin or other B vitamins can help perk up our system and encourage our metabolism to function normally.”
As mentioned earlier, a seasonal dip in moods could be a result of hormonal fluctuations due to changes in weather or diet. What’s more, certain neurotransmitters are also light-sensitive and may be produced in higher quantities when it's sunny. All things considered, it’s surprising that not everyone experiences winter gloom! While you can’t change the weather, you can support a more stable endocrine and nervous system by supporting your endocannabinoid system (ECS). One of the ways you can do this is by trying CBD or cannabidiol. CBD works by prolonging the effects of chemicals called endocannabinoids in your body, helping them do their job for much longer. CBD can be taken in capsule, tincture or edible form. However, the fastest and most bioavailable way to take CBD is by vaping it.
Engaging in ‘healthy habits’ when you don’t want to get out of bed is easier said than done. However, the habits are still worth a mention for the difference they can make. Jason McDowell of Wayzata Dental believes the two things that work great for him are physical fitness and cleanliness. He emphasizes that there’s no need to eat healthily and work out every day if you aren’t up to it. “Getting a little fitness in your day, and cutting out excessive junk food can kick some well-needed endorphins into your system.” Below are some other tips from Tiffany Young of TY Mental Health Consulting Agency.
Take one thing at a time
With the changing seasons comes the holiday season. Take your time and participate in only the activities that you can mentally and emotionally handle at any given time.
Everything in Moderation
Alcohol and other substances and even sugary foods can exaggerate any symptoms of depression and stress. Keep these things in moderation when the seasons change.
Create Happy Memories
Utilize seasonal activities to create happy memories with family and friends. Remember to stay in the moment and connect to the emotions of what's happening around you versus keeping your focus on the past.
Notice when your mood begins to change and feel free to take a break, engage your coping skills and self-care techniques, and talk to family and friends about your limits.
Plug into your support system and have a plan of who you can call when you begin to have mood shifts.
As we edge closer to the winter, thoughts about the coming low moods could have you feeling blue already. Unfortunately, stressing about the winter blues before they arrive can only prolong your misery. Try to approach it this year with a new sense of confidence, control, and calm. Keep your curtains open and your friends close, and try some of our tips above!