5 Ways to Help You Ride Out the Early Winter Blues
This week I was SO crabby with the man in my life. For no real reason. I picked fights and nudged and nagged. It wasn’t pretty. And, when asked why, I couldn’t answer. Why was I crabby?
And then I realized. The temperatures dropped significantly this week. And I was depressed. Seasonally depressed.
“Oh man.” I thought. “Here we go again.”
Luckily, I have a bag of tricks that I turn to when I get depressed. They work almost every time.
#1 – Take a good hard look at how you are feeling.
This is very important. Be aware of why you are feeling the way you are feeling.
For me, this week I seemed mad at my guy. But really I wasn’t. I was sad because the weather had turned cold. It happens to me every year.
Pay attention to your blues. Are they the result of something that happened? A conversation or an event that went wrong? Or did they just appear overnight? And how long have they lasted? A day? A week? A month?
If your sadness is not the result of something specific and has lasted for more than a few days it might be time to see your doctor. Depression can be a serious disease and catching it early is the best way to deal with it.
#2 – Talk back to that brain of yours.
I have said this before and I will say it again. When your brain starts telling you things that don’t make you feel good SHUT IT DOWN.
Our brains are hardwired to be our worst enemies. When you start feeling sad your brain goes into overdrive to sustain that sadness. It tells you that you are fat and you believe it. It tells you that you are worthless and you believe it. And when you are sad your brain will only tell you things that will make you sadder.
That’s how it works – UNLESS you tell your brain to back off.
When you hear your brain telling you that you will never amount to anything recognize that your brain is telling you this from a place of sadness. If you were in a better place, a place of happiness, your brain would not be saying this to you. It would be telling you that the sky is the limit.
So, when you are sad, question every negative thought that comes into your brain. And then talk back to it very firmly. Say to it “Of course I am going to be something…look at how far I have already come.”
#3 – Get enough Vitamin D and sunshine.
The human body gets Vitamin D from sunshine. Yes, it is also in fortified milk and a few other foods but really the main source for us is sunshine. And with insufficient Vitamin D we get depressed.
Almost every person living in the Northeast suffers from Vitamin D deficiency. And much of America does now too because of the widespread use of sunscreen.
Try to get outside and get some sunshine every day. On your hands and your face are most important, I have been told. There are also light machines that mimic sunlight which you can use inside but getting outside, where the air is fresh and the sun is shining, is best.
Also, taking a vitamin D3 supplement has worked for me in the past. 5000 IUs is the dosage my doctor recommended for me. I take one every morning from October – April and it very much helps.
#4 – Eat foods that make you feel good.
I don’t know about you but when I get depressed I LOVE to eat. Pad Thai and peanut butter with chocolate chips by the spoonful are my favorites.
While these foods aren’t bad for me there are actually foods that have been shown to be mood enhancing. And some of them are really yummy!
Top on the list of mood enhancing foods are: almonds, guacamole, chocolate, coffee, watermelon and fava beans
That last one isn’t a perennial favorite but I threw it in there anyway.
Also good for you are bananas, apples, green leafy vegetables, oatmeal and pumpkin seeds.
So when you are feeling the blues make yourself a banana and almond milk smoothie, grab a handful of chocolate chips and go sit on the front stoop in the sun for a bit.
Try it now….at the very least the chocolate chip part.
#5 – Change your chemistry.
Okay, here is the best one. Doing things that make you feel good.
The body produces a chemical known as dopamine. When dopamine levels are low in the body depression can be the result.
Fortunately, there are ways to bump up dopamine levels in the body. And, really, not one of them is a chore.
Top on the list of things that produce dopamine:
- Listening to music
- Having sex
- Setting a goal and meeting it
- Knowing one answer on a crossword puzzle
- Doing something creative
- Trying something new
Do you think you can find one thing on that list that might appeal? Do it after your banana and almond milk smoothie and life will be good.
Depression can be very serious and I don’t want to downplay that here. If you have been feeling not yourself for any period of time check with your doctor.
The things that I have listed here are things that I have used for years to get me through the blues. They really work. As soon as I feel the depression settling in I put these things into action.
Just ask my man. Not only am I no longer being crabby but he gets to help me raise my dopamine levels. Now everyone is happy.
Are you really struggling with the winter blues?
Let me help you cope with it, NOW, before your depression gets worse.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.