February is a tough month for most of us.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is smack-dab in the middle of the month, but between the pressures that holiday puts on couples and singles alike, the cold, the early hour at which it gets dark, and the after-holiday letdown, February is a tough month for even the most chipper people.
It’s understandable if all of those things and more get you down, and not just during February! After all, life can get hard and get you down no matter what season it is, and no one wants to let the gloom last longer than it has to.
Rather than allowing yourself to stay down, check out these 30 ways to beat the winter blues:
Check Your Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can have a serious impact on your mood in the short-term, and long-term can lead to depression as well as other illnesses. You may be getting 7 hours of sleep per night (which is within the recommendation), but your body may need 9 hours. Or, you may be sleeping too much, which can also affect your mood. Keep a sleep journal or track your sleep with your FitBit and watch for a correlation between sleep and mood.
Birth Control, hormone-regulating medicines, and even blood pressure medication can all have an impact on mood. Some can even cause depression in the wrong doses or when mixed with other medication. If a blue mood is persisting, have a chat with your doctor to see if the medicines you’re on might be the cause.
Regularly, if you can. Keep your workouts regular and hard enough to push yourself each time you exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily to notice a significant mood boost. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a walk around the block for the same benefits, but without all of the exercise stress that you body isn’t used to. Then, try to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
Count Your Blessings
Your job, your kids, or your spouse can all throw tough decisions at you – sometimes all at the same time – which can get you down faster than you realize. When that happens, write down things that you’re thankful for. Start with 10 things, and if you can name more, great. This simple act of writing (don’t skip actually writing them down) forces you to really think about your blessings, which translates into an all-natural mood boost.
Clear Your Schedule
When your calendar is packed and stress is commonplace in your life, your mood tends to plummet. If you’re struggling with mood or even depression it is important not to over schedule or take on more than you can handle.
Make Routine Your Friend
For those struggling with depression or just feeling down, adhering to a strict daily schedule. Answer emails at the same time, exercise consistently, and even eat meals on a schedule to help your brain acclimate and balance itself.
Pet Your Pup
Dogs (and cats) aren’t just our best friends, they’re a big part of our mood. Throw a ball, cuddle, or take them for a walk around the block for a serotonin (happy hormones) boost and lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Talk it Out
Sometimes, just voicing your feelings to family or friends is all it takes to get you out of a funk. Talking about your feelings gives them validity, allows those who love you to act as a sounding board, give advice, as well as a different perspective about what you have going on.
Get Some Sun
We all know that sunlight contains vitamin D, which helps stabilize mood. If you’re home, open the curtains to let natural light in, or if you’re stuck in a windowless office, take a walk before work or during your lunch break. To take things a step further, put a lamp by your bedside with a time that turns it on 15 minutes before your morning alarm sounds. Doing so will give your body a simulated dawn, which can help your body’s natural rhythm and boost your mood.
Switch Out Bulbs
If you have incandescent bulbs in your house, they may be contributing to your blue mood. CFL’s do a better job of acting like natural sunlight. Switch out your bulbs and place lamps strategically in low-light areas for a natural lighting effect and the uplifted mood that goes along with them.
Even though you may not feel like it, forcing yourself to smile can have the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Researchers don’t know exactly how smiling effects the brain, but the old adage is true: “Fake It Till You Make It.”
Don’t Overlook Touch
The simple act of hugging, holding hands, even snuggling on the couch for as little as 30 seconds has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise serotonin levels, and lower stress-induced cortisol levels. The act of touch also relaxes you, making you happier and healthier at the same time.
Indulge A Bit
If you love chocolate, try a bit of the dark stuff , which contains tryptophan. Even if the tryptophan doesn’t have the desired effect on your mood, just indulging in something you enjoy and taking the time to savor it can banish the winter blues in just a few minutes.
Create With Abandon
Not everyone can paint like Picasso, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the creative process. Whether it’s writing, pottery, drawing, or cooking, embracing your creative side can get you out of your funk and your down mood.
Color Your World
The paint colors in your home and office can have an effect not only on your mood, the how productive you are. If you are allowed, ask for a more soothing color of paint. If repainting isn’t an option then consider the decor hanging on the walls. Soothing colors with pops up brightness are the best combo for a happy outlook.
Eat More Omega 3’s
Omega-3’s are the healthy fats found in fish, and eating more of them can help you brain balance itself out and avoid depression. Other power foods include those with selenium and folate (like brazil nuts and orange juice) can have the same effect, but for the maximum mood lifting power, consume all three on a regular basis.
Revamp Your Diet
If you’re on a strict diet to help you lose weight – and have been for any period of time – it may be time to shake things up a bit. Going for long periods of time without carbohydrates can help you lose weight, but going so long without carbohydrates can seriously affect mood. Make changes to your diet to include more carbs on a regular basis and watch as the blues improve.
Whether it’s alcohol or drugs, the highs of imbibing also lead to dramatic low and depression. Combining the alcohol and drugs can make those mood swings even worse. Additionally, drugs and alcohol affect brain chemistry in ways that we don’t even completely understand yet, so when you do decide to indulge keep it to two drinks at a time and don’t mix drugs and alcohol.
Visit The Doc
Feeling down can make you neglect your health, including visiting the doctor for regular check-ups. Not only can scheduling your visit to find out that everything is alright physically give your mood a boost, treating the symptoms of depression can set you up for more success with a positive outlook in the future.
Look To Supplements
The best herbal supplement for depression and mood swings (as well as the most studied) is St. John’s Wort. It has shown to be just as effective as prescription anti-depressants, out-performed palcebos in tests, and has been studied extensively, so if the blues are getting you down, pick up some St. John’s Wort.
There is a difference between the blues and depression, so if you’re in a funk that you can’t seem to get out of, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Depression is a very real, very serious illness that can affect anyone, at any time, even if you don’t have a family history or any risk factors for it.
But, if what you have is your garden-variety funk, before you resort to self-medicating with alcohol or visiting the doc for a prescription, try these methods that will not only help elevate your mood, but introduce good and healthy habits into your life.
How do you lift yourself out of a funk? Let us know in the comments!