Tips for Beating the Winter Blues
Before those winter blues get you down prepare for this common mood monster and develop a strategy to beat the cold weather doldrums. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures get lower, some simple shifts in your behavior can help you avoid seeking comfort in food to get through the winter months.
Trigger #1: It’s cold and miserable outside.
Strategy # 1: It’s not cold and miserable; it’s just cold. What makes it miserable is not dressing properly for outdoor adventures. Layers, layers, layers will help increase your comfort level and make outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Find a friend or a group of people to share in your outdoor activity. Go for a walk, get a football game started with friends and family, or play in the snow. Enjoy the leafless view and the quiet beauty of winter. Hiking trails and beaches are certainly less crowded in the winter (unless you are lucky enough to be in a warmer climate like Florida or California). Be mindful of the positives that being outdoors in the winter can bring.
Strategy #2: If being outdoors is really not something you want to do regularly, then schedule some indoor physical activity on a regular basis. Try something new! Maybe join a pickleball group, try water aerobics, or enroll in Zumba, yoga, or Pilates classes. Just #MoveMore. Hibernation, especially in isolation, can lead to over eating and inactivity, both of which can foster weight gain and depressed mood.
Trigger #2: We get less vitamin D in winter.
Strategy #1: It’s a fact, the days are shorter and there is less opportunity to get the sunlight we need. Preliminary studies suggest that potential low levels of Vitamin D can have an effect on our mood. Thus, you should try to increase you outdoor activities when you can during the daylight hours. Maybe you can adjust you work hours to support this strategy. If not, try to get outdoors more on the weekends. Another strategy is to plan a winter vacation to a sunny destination. Who doesn’t like that solution?
Strategy #2: You can also increase the vitamin D in your diet. Try to eat foods that deliver high levels of this nutrient; fish such as pink salmon, mackerel, sardines; fish oils; and other foods that are fortified with vitamin D like low-fat milk, oatmeal, orange juice, cereal, and eggs. Unfortunately, we make less vitamin D as we age, so a daily supplement may be the answer as we grow older.
Trigger #3: Winter makes me feel sad and lonely.
Strategy #1: Before that overall sense of dissatisfaction sets in for the winter, make a plan to squelch it before it starts. Get involved! Join a community or religious group, read to the elderly, or make regular plans with friends and family that involve non-food activities. This will help you stay connected and avoid the isolation that can worsen a sense of loneliness.
Strategy #2: Take the opportunity to learn something new by enrolling in a class (e.g., ballroom dancing, piano lessons, painting). Engaging in novel activities outside of the home will keep you stimulated and may help you avoid too much time in front of the television and mindlessly snacking the evening away.
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Structure House is a residential weight loss facility that is located in Durham, North Carolina. We offer a unique, effective approach to weight management and lifestyle change. We integrate scientifically supported principles of nutrition, exercise, and psychology to help our clients adopt behaviors that will contribute to a healthier and more satisfying way of living.