How to Beat the Winter Blues

The realization that there are still a couple of months of cold, dreary weather ahead can be a real drag. If you find yourself feeling like a different person in winter, and it seems like your mood won’t improve until spring, you could be struggling with seasonal depression. Here are some natural ways to boost your mood and defeat your winter blues this year.

1. Light Therapy

While psychologists have yet to pinpoint the exact reasons behind why some people experience the physical, emotional and cognitive challenges of seasonal depression, one hypothesis is that it occurs because we experience much less sunlight in the winter. To combat this, you can invest in a light box that mimics the sun’s rays. For best results, sit in front of the light box for 30 minutes or more each morning. You can do other things while you’re engaged in your light therapy, such as working or reading the news, as long as you stay an appropriate distance from the box.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of short-term psychological treatment that has proven to be especially helpful for addressing depression. The guiding principle behind CBT lies in motivating people to change their negative thought patterns and replace them with new, healthy coping mechanisms.

For example, if you told a therapist specializing in CBT that you get depressed in the winter because you hate the bleak, dismal weather and you feel like you can’t do anything enjoyable, they might challenge you to come up with a list of fun activities you can do in the winter, like playing board games in front of a roaring fireplace.

3. Seek Good Company

If you’re like many people with seasonal depression, it can be hard to fight the urge to “hibernate” and avoid getting out and interacting with others. But isolation will only make your mood worsen. Instead, reach out to friends and invite them to join you for lunch or a movie date. Any situation that forces you to engage with the world will be an excellent remedy for SAD.

4. Eat a Balanced Diet

Depression can cause havoc with your eating habits. You may lose your appetite altogether, or discover that the only foods that tempt your tastebuds are starchy, carbohydrate-loaded meals and sugary sweets. Not only will these foods cause weight gain, but they’re not the fuel your body needs to help you feel your best. Instead, try natural mood-boosting foods such as berries, salmon, dark leafy greens, almonds and dark chocolate. You’ll perk up in no time.

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