The winter solstice is coming up next Wednesday December 21st, 2016, this means it will be the shortest day of sunlight for the entire year, also making it the darkest day of the year. It comes as no surprise to me, that we celebrate Christmas, and other Holidays during this time of year, as an attempt to bring some light, and happiness to one another on these cold and dark winter days. However, despite the celebrations, the lack of sunlight can have a dramatic effect on your energy levels and mood. Below is a list of 5 ways to lift your spirits this winter that won’t put a strain on your pocket-book! Because I’m sure the holiday season is costing you a pretty penny already 😉
- Brighten up your environment. Open up your shades during the day, and let as much natural light into your space as possible. If your desk at work does not get any direct sunlight, or if you don’t have access to a window, then on your lunch break sit by the window, or find ways to get to window through out your day. For example, on your way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, take a route that passes by areas that are well-lit with natural light. OR if all else fails, leave the office for lunch, go out for coffee, and get outside! Even though it may be cold and a little uninviting, you will feel so much better after getting a brief amount of fresh air and sunlight, trust me!
- Watch your diet. During this time of year, and well, winter in general, we tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods.” These types of foods are high in fat, and high in sugar. The reason why these foods are considered “comfort foods” is because not only do they taste awesome, the high amounts of carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, and the high fat content gives you a sense of satiety or a satisfying feeling of fullness. Or, if you’ve had too much, you may feel a little sick or “stuffed.” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some holiday food here and there, but do not go overboard! It is so hard to keep yourself from overeating at this time of year! And sure, these comfort foods taste great, and feel great going down, that feeling is only temporary! If you want to feel great for a longer period of time, feed your body with nutrient dense foods! Sure, pie tastes great, but it doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel great if you’ve had too much. Also, if you overeat these comfort foods, you basically put yourself in a food coma, which makes it very difficult for you to be motivated to do anything else but lie on the couch. Not only will you feel “fat,” and “gross,” you will lower your energy levels, and lower your overall mood. So, my advice is to eat as healthy as possible, and keep the Christmas treats to a minimum!
- Exercise! I’ve written an article in the past about the effects of exercise on your mental health called How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me . It talks about how fitness has helped me overcome times when I’ve felt very unhappy with how my life was going, and it can most definitely help you! Exercise, especially doing cardiovascular exercises can help you naturally create “happy chemicals” in your brain called endorphins. Actually exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Also, doing interval style training can help alleviate stress and anxiety. So, if this time of year has you feeling really stressed out and anxious? Then take a spin class, or do some interval training on some of the cardio equipment in the gym. Either way, you should get your body moving this time of year, especially when all you want to do is hibernate. Hibernating, and hiding from the world will only isolate you more, and have you feeling the blues even more so.
- Turn up the volume of your favorite music! Ever notice how Christmas music is always happy, hopeful, and cheerful? I don’t know about you, but I love to play Christmas music at this time of year. Not only does it get me into the Christmas spirit, it really does lift my mood. I just can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Especially when I’m doing Christmas things, like baking, or decorating the tree. However. I know that many people find Christmas music to be a little annoying, especially because it literally plays in every store, and almost every coffee shop that you walk into. So, if Christmas music doesn’t make you happy, play the type of music that does. Music has a tremendous ability to really affect people in a positive way!
- Volunteer, and help others! There is no better time, then the holiday season to give back to your community! Volunteering your time and helping out others really does feel good, and it can help you get a sense of purpose. When things seem so dark and lonely, it’s a good idea to reach out and give a helping hand. It may help you to realize you are not alone, things are not as dark as they seem, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life. It is so positive to be able to give back in some way to your community. Not only is it positive for the people who directly benefit from the work you’ve done, but for you as well. Everyone wants to feel like their lives mean something, and that they are needed in some way.
These are all my suggestions for helping you overcome those winter blues. Heck! You can apply all of these things to your life in general, and I can guarantee a higher quality of life! Go outside, get some more sunlight in your life! Eat well, and exercise! This will help you feel better both mentally and physically. You will have more energy throughout the day, and you will be a better version of yourself to conquer whatever life throws at you! Listen to music (that’s if you enjoy music) and dance, sing, do whatever makes you happy! I literally dance everyday and some point, music makes me so happy 🙂 And last but not least, give back! I know we all live busy lives, but it really does make you feel good from the inside out to be able to do something genuinely nice for someone for no reason other than it was a good thing to do. Merry Christmas guys! Don’t let the winter darkness get you down!