As cool weather and shorter days set in, these tips can help you feel warmer all winter long.
As the days get shorter and the weather turns cold, you might find yourself feeling blue. Add to that the sometimes stressful demands of the holidays, and it's time to take action. Consider these ways to perk yourself up over the next few months:
- Find Time for Yourself: Identify a few uninterrupted hours each week (in between work, your family commitments and the seasonal entertaining schedule) to do something you really enjoy, whether it's reading a book or pursuing a hobby.
- Get Physical: Studies show that physical activity stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, so it leaves you with more energy, even hours after you've finished your workout.
- Head Outdoors: Exercising outside for as little as half an hour each day can help adjust your circadian rhythm (your body's 24-hour cycle of rest and activity) to the season. Plus, the additional sunlight you absorb, even on cloudy days, can protect you from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression brought on by the change in seasons. SAD affects 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. population, especially those located in northerly climates. (If you think you might suffer from SAD, consult your doctor to reach an accurate diagnosis and create a treatment plan.)
- Eat Well: Good nutrition is another pathway to feeling good. Try to avoid processed rice, sugars and white breads, which can cause energy and mood swings. Complex carbohydrates, such as barley, brown rice, oats and other whole grains, are better bets, along with small amounts of lean protein and leafy greens.
- Be Social: Even as you need time with yourself, you need to engage with others to keep your spirits high. Make sure you schedule some stress-free time to relax with family and friends.
- Sleep Tight: About eight hours of sleep each night is essential to your health and to keeping a positive mood. Getting to bed and rising early both help adjust your circadian rhythm.
With a little planning and a few lifestyle changes, you can truly enjoy the beautiful winter season.
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