From rosy cheeks to shimmering snowflakes to decked out evergreens, the winter season comes with a lot of unique beauty. But, for many people, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Several months of cold, wind, and snow combined with a lack of mood-boosting sunlight can leave some feeling down and sluggish. Sometimes these symptoms can escalate to a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder, while others simply feel a little off. Either way, there are plenty of natural ways to help brighten your mood and perk up your energy, so you don’t miss out on anything winter has to offer. We’ve rounded up 5 of our favorite methods for staying happy and healthy all season long.
1. Bring in the sun
One of the main reasons people feel down during the winter is because they aren’t exposed to as many mood-boosting sun rays as they are in the spring and summer. For those longing for the sun, a light therapy lamp may be a worthy investment. Light therapy lamps emit the same kind of bright light as the sun and, therefore, can have the same positive effects on mood. For the best results, use a lamp that emits at least 10,000 lux of light and sit by the lamp for at least 15 minutes each morning.
2. Breathe in happiness
If you’ve ever received a professional massage, you may be familiar with how many massage therapists use scented essential oils to increase your sense of relaxation. Aromatherapy — as this practice is called — can be a powerful and pleasant tool for balancing your mood during the winter. Different scents have different effects, so try peppermint to help you focus, citrus scents for a dose of happiness, and lavender to ease stress and help with sleep. You can either diffuse the scents throughout a room or, if you’re on the go, put a little drop of oil on the inside of your wrists and at the base of your neck like you would with perfume.
3. Cozy up
As beautiful as winter can be, the best place to be on a blustery night is snuggled up by the fire, mug of hot cocoa in hand. Staying warm and comfortable can be your number-one defense during a season that’s constantly testing your body’s cold tolerance. Get cozy by changing into warm, comfortable clothing as soon as you get home and staying bundled up in blankets as much as you’d like (you might even consider getting a weighted blanket which are even more effective at reducing stress). If you must go outside (hopefully to enjoy a beautiful holiday light display), spare no expense. Hats, gloves, scarves, and hand and feet warmers can help your body feel like it never left home.
4. Get your blood pumping
Exercising may be the last thing on your mind if you’re feeling low and sluggish, but it also may be just the thing you need to put the spring back in your step. Physical activity increases the production of feel-good chemicals in your brain that help fight off feelings of sadness and stress. A 30-minute walk can be enough to boost your mood, or opt for an indoor activity such as yoga.
5. Warm up from the inside out
Make your meals work for your mood by including a variety of foods with mood-boosting properties. These include essential fatty acids, healthy carbohydrates, and lots of protein which can be found in a variety of foods including nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains. And, as good as salads are for you, you may want to stick to warmer, cooked foods in the winter such as soups and roasted vegetables. Cooking your foods makes it easier for your body to access all the uplifting nutrients in your meal.
Mix and match these remedies to build up your best defense against the winter blues — you may be surprised by how quickly you start to feel better. Still, if you’re consistently practicing these little fixes but are still experiencing low moods and fatigue, it’s best to talk to your doctor about other treatment plans. They can help you get the boost you need that will complement these natural remedies.
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