Beat the Winter Blues

By on December 18, 2012

Completely You: Lifestyle

By Sharon Liao for Completely You

Living a healthy, active lifestyle gets harder when the temperatures drop and you suddenly feel the winter blues coming on. Instead of holing up for months, incorporate these seven easy tweaks into your daily routine, and soon your happy days will be back again.

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Winter Blues Remedy No. 1: Listen to Music.
Whether you’re a fan of Michael Jackson or Michael Buble, play one of their most cheerful songs today. According to a recent British study, people who listened to an uplifting song felt happier after just 15 seconds.

Winter Blues Remedy No 2: Get Sun Exposure.
“A lack of sunlight can disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycle,” says Michael Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “That can lead to sluggishness and depression.” Get your body back in sync by soaking up sunlight first thing in the morning. Raise the blinds, eat breakfast in a sunny room or walk a lap around the block before heading into the office. If you’re feeling particularly blue, you may want to consider investing in a light therapy box, a device that mimics sunshine. They typically cost between $100 and $200.

Winter Blues Remedy No. 3: Go Outside.
Bundle up for a short stroll in a park or on a tree-lined street. Exercising in nature for a mere five minutes is enough to lift your spirits, say researchers from Britain’s University of Essex. Stuck in a snowdrift? Spend some time next to a window that overlooks the backyard. Other research reveals that simply gazing at the great outdoors can increase energy and improve your outlook.

Winter Blues Remedy No. 4: Enhance Your Sleep.
After you brush your teeth, wash your face and set the alarm, add this move to your bedtime ritual: Lie with your legs leaning up against the wall. “This move relieves stress and boosts circulation, so you can sleep soundly and feel refreshed the next day,” says Jamie Segal Hanley, a yoga instructor and owner of Elevate Yoga in Hazlet, N.J. Start by rolling up a blanket and placing it lengthwise next to a wall. Sit on the blanket with your left side against the wall, knees bent toward your chest. Using your arms for support, place your shoulders on the ground while pivoting your feet up the wall. Inhale and exhale — to the count of six — for five to 15 minutes.

Winter Blues Remedy No. 5: Exercise.
Before you make plans with your couch and remote, consider this: A recent study from The University of Vermont shows that exercise can give you that post-workout glow for up to 12 hours. You don’t have to go for a grueling run in the snow to reap those benefits. Exercisers got that effect from just 20 minutes of moderate cycling on a stationary bike.

Winter Blues Remedy No. 6: Eat Nuts.
“Walnuts, along with flax and fatty fish, are high in omega-3s,” says Sharon Richter, a registered dietitian in New York City. These healthy fats — which are found in brain cells — have been linked to assuaging symptoms of depression, so toss some nuts in your salad. Plus, the folic acid in spinach can also chase away the blues. For an even bigger boost, pair your salad with a whole-grain roll. “Carbs increase the production of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin,” says Richter.

Winter Blues Remedy No. 7: Smile!
Just the act of lifting the corners of your mouth immediately improves your mood, according to many studies, including recent research published in the journal Emotion.

What are your favorite remedies for a case of the winter blues? Share below or join the conversation @Completely_You 

Sharon Liao is an award-winning health editor and writer who has been on staff at Prevention, Fitness, and Reader’s Digest magazines. She has contributed to Seventeen and Weight Watchers Magazine, as well as The Intellectual Devotional: Health.

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Beat the Winter Blues