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Winter Blues? - 5 tips on how to beat them

Every year hundreds of people go through the infamous Winter Blues. It's fairly common when days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Even though it's pretty common it doesn't affect everyone in the same way. Some of us feel temporary fluctuations in our mood and the overall sensation of 'feeling low'. For others, it can linger and even get worse leading to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

There are things we can do to overcome it. In this blog we will give you 5 tips on how to beat Winter Blues. Are you going through the Winter Blues this season? Then keep on reading. Let's go!


Minimize Social Media: Yes, you heard it right! Even though relaxing on the couch and scrolling through social media feels good, according to Verywell Mind, increased screen time and the quality of social media content (such as consuming triggering content) may exacerbate that winter blues feeling (Verywell Mind, 2023).


Take Care of Your Gut: According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, gut health is directly related to how you feel. The gut-brain axis is like a communication highway connecting the gut and the brain. It's not just a physical connection; it involves various pathways like hormones, metabolism, and the immune system (National Library of Medicine, 2018).


Think of it as a network of roads between your stomach and your brain. Your gut has its say too, affecting your mood, how you think, and even your mental health. It's like a constant back-and-forth conversation between your gut and your brain, influencing how both your body and mind work. In short, to feel good eat good foods (National Library of Medicine,2018). 


Workout for It to Work Out: Exercising triggers the release of brain chemicals that promote a sense of well-being and enhance self-esteem, focus, and quality of sleep. Surprisingly, this beneficial activity doesn't have to entail costly gym memberships or extreme sports. Engaging in an activity you genuinely enjoy provides a meaningful goal, offering a sense of purpose while also serving as a fantastic opportunity to socialize, take a break from routine, and build confidence (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). 


Sleep Hygiene is Essential: Poor sleep hygiene means doing things that keep you awake or disrupt your usual sleep routine. A study by the National Library of Medicine found that people with poor sleep hygiene were more likely to be depressed (about 75.8%) compared to the group with good sleep hygiene (about 59.6%)(National Library of Medicine, 2023).


A Friend in Need is a Friend in D: Vitamin D affects muscles, heart, and mental health. It's obtained from sunlight, food, and supplements. Darker skin can limit its absorption. Low levels might impact mental health, causing conditions like seasonal affective disorder and depression (WebMD, 2023).


Light Therapy Benefits: If you're not getting much help from basic treatments, you might consider light therapy, commonly used for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests sitting in front of a light box in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes. These boxes usually emit 10,000 lux (a measure of light intensity)(National Institute of Mental Health, 2023). It's advised by Verywell Mind to do this daily from early fall to spring to reap the maximum benefits of this (Verywell Mind,2023).


In conclusion, combat winter blues and boost well-being by minimizing social media use, maintaining gut health, exercising regularly, ensuring good sleep hygiene, getting adequate Vitamin D, and considering light therapy. By taking these steps, you can navigate winter with a healthier and happier mindset.


For personalized guidance and support, talk to me at Talk to Sri. Embrace the season, let the light in—both literally and metaphorically—and stay well!


References:


Lindberg, S. (2023, August 29). How to beat the winter blues. M.Ed. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-beat-the-winter-blues-5087998 


Appleton J. (2018). The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 17(4), 28–32.


Mental Health Foundation. (2023). Physical activity and mental health. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved Jan 8, 2024, from://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/physical-activity-and-mental-health


Alanazi, E. M., Alanazi, A. M. M., Albuhairy, A. H., & Alanazi, A. A. A. (2023). Sleep Hygiene Practices and Its Impact on Mental Health and Functional Performance Among Adults in Tabuk City: A Cross-Sectional Study. Cureus, 15(3), e36221. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10105495/


WebMD. (2023, April 9). What to know about vitamin D and mental health. Medically reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD. WebMD://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/what-to-know-about-vitamin-d-and-mental-health


WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2023, April 9). How to beat the winter blues. Medically reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder

 


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