The leaves, the snow, the temperature— everything is falling. Does your mood follow suit?
As daylight softens, and shortens, it’s common to suffer from a mild case of depression known as the “winter blues.” Symptoms like change in appetite or sleep patterns, weight gain, irritability, trouble concentrating, and decreased energy are all common ones you might recognize. Research says these feelings seem related to insufficient light, resulting in hormone imbalance— specifically serotonin, the “happy hormone,” which the body produces when triggered by light.
So what can you do to lift the mood when it’s time to bundle up and hunker down for the winter season?
Soak up what you can. Sunshine means vitamin D and serotonin! Even if it’s not glaringly bright, the natural air will do you some good. Pull on your warmest gear and get outside for a few minutes.
Get physical. A study from the University of Toronto showed that walking, or even gardening, for as little as 20 minutes a day can help improve mentality. It boosts serotonin levels in the brain, enhances circulation to increase blood and nutrient flow, and also increases energy and metabolism.
Comfort food, done right. Carb cravings are a common symptom, but don’t give in! Take comfort in foods that are high in tryptophan—a building block for serotonin— like turkey, bananas, flaxseeds/flaxseed oil. Also try to get plenty of fatty acids— like EPA and DHA— which you’ll find in fish, seafood, and eggs.
Catch some good Zzz’s. Keeping your sleep pattern consistent is an important piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to keep, or regain, hormonal balance.