As the temperature drops, the snow piles up, and the gray sky of winter takes hold, the winter blues are a common feeling. Many people experience a shift in their mood this time of year that matches the colder, darker days of winter.
It is natural to have a lower energy level and a gloomier mood than normal this time of year when sunlight is rare and social activities are lacking. Of course, if you are experiencing feelings stronger than typical winter blues it is best to talk to a therapist. But if you are looking to boost your mood and energy this time of year, here are a few simple things you can do to have a serious impact on the winter blues.
Cardio is great and all, but the benefits of strength training are seemingly endless. Resistance training has proven to be effective for both your physical and mental health. In fact, a 2018 Harvard study found that individuals with mild to moderate depression that performed resistance training 2 or more times per week saw significant improvement in their symptoms.
And while you may not want to leave the house to go to the gym when your car is covered in ice and the windchill is well below zero, the good news is you can do strength training at home with little or no equipment. All it takes is 20 minutes of resistance training with some dumbbells, bands, or body weight exercises to help boost your mood and kick those winter blues to the curb. And of course, the added bonus of feeling stronger and looking leaner is never a bad thing.
Prior to what is now known as the Standard American Diet (or appropriately S.A.D.), it was much more common for individuals to have a healthy 1:1 or 2:1 balance of Omega 6s to Omega 3s. Today, due to so much of our foods being ultra-processed or deep fried, that balance is more like 16:1! This deficiency of Omega-3s is responsible for many physical health issues, but also the cause of depression. So, another simple action we can take in addressing the seasonal depression of winter is getting plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 can be found in salmon (go for wild caught) or flax seeds. Supplements are also an effective way to consistently get your omegas. We of course recommend Sweat Ethic Omega Lean with its blend of fish oil, flaxseed oil, and CLA and L-Carnitine for metabolism support.
If you have ever watched or listened to Dr. Andrew Huberman of Huberman Labs at Stanford University you have certainly heard all about the importance and benefits of early morning light exposure. If you haven't heard of Dr. Andrew Huberman, we highly recommend you check him out on Youtube, Instagram, or his podcast for great health and wellness content.
Through extensive research Dr. Huberman has uncovered the impact light exposure has on our lives. He recommends getting outside for direct sunlight exposure for at least 5 minutes within the first half-hour of waking. This helps with improving our sleep and helps fight depression, among other benefits. While we may go days without sun in the winter, you can still get daylight exposure on cloudy days - it just takes longer. There is also the option of light therapy lamps.
Conversely, limiting artificial light late at night can also help our mood and overall health. So, when possible, get sunlight in the morning and always try to eliminate artificial light at night. These are yet another simple step you can take to fight the winter blues and improve your energy and mood during the winter months.