I’m certainly not making light of “cabin fever” by any stretch of the imagination, but I am trying to create an exaggerated visualization of what it can be like to have the winter blues
None of you reading this will probably have had the experience that the “Jack Torrance” character in The Shining did, but many of you have at least had a mild experience of the winter blues. Though, some of you may have experienced symptoms of cabin fever like mood swings, irritation, lethargy, sleep disturbances, weight loss or gain, lack of interest in once pleasurable activities, and so on. It doesn’t mean you are helpless to do anything about it.
The lack of light in wintertime, plus the inability to go outside, can lead to decreased levels of serotonin in some people; the mood-improving chemical that regulates hunger and the sensation of well-being to help your body to relax. However, you can naturally increase the serotonin production in your body with light whether it be artificial indoor lighting or naturally from the sun. Serotonin works within the brain to direct a variety of body functions. The brain chemical serotonin regulates your emotions, hunger, memory, sexual desire, and muscle function.
Caffeine suppresses serotonin
I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with caffeine for years. I know I don’t really need it every day, but I do look forward to my morning cup of java.
Caffeine can quickly use up the serotonin in your body. Insufficient serotonin may contribute to mood problems, including anxiety and depression. The initial “pick me up” you get from caffeine momentarily increases serotonin levels, however you only end up “crashing” later on after your serotonin levels drop back down.
This can result with some people the desire to drink more caffeine to regain that initial feeling, however the results only last briefly. Some people even develop a caffeine addiction because of the temporary increase in serotonin.
Other Substances to Avoid or at least reduce
Alcohol, nicotine, sugar, and too many carbs also give you that initial serotonin rush, but the effects are short-lived with these substances too.
Good mood foods and activities that worked for me
- Eat your Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s are considered healthy fats for your body. Think of it like this: your car motor needs oil in it so that the parts inside of it don’t corrode or seize up. Your body is the same way. Omega-3’s lubricate your internal parts so they move and operate more easily.
- Take some vitamin B12. I have been taking B12 for over a year now to improve my moods, increase my mental stamina, and also my energy levels. It also does a great job of keeping my nerves relaxed and stable.
- Get out the pad and paper and start drawing some pictures. I bought a really cool book on how to draw for $5.00 at Barnes and Noble. Activities that use the right brain are way more relaxing and calming then left brained exercises. Think about it. Which sounds like more fun to you? Solving complex math equations or doodling on a notepad?
- Get moving, if you are adventurous go outside and do some work. Clean up the yard, wipe off the outside of your house, pick up tree branches and pine cones off the ground.
- Do some bird watching with binoculars. There are still plenty of birds outside to see and they would love your attention. I just saw a really cool bluebird in the tree in my backyard yesterday.
- Get a Massage. The human body loves to be touched and cared for. Why not treat yourself to a full body massage once a week. Trust me, your body, mind, and soul all benefit from a good massage. If you cannot afford a massage than do it yourself. Just use some organic, natural massage oil and gently work on your body. Give extra attention to the bottom of your feet because they are one of the most neglected parts on the human body.
- Take five minutes a day, three times a day to do some breathing exercises. Breath in for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for eight seconds (if you can) and exhale for four seconds. This will immediately change you state of mind and well-being.
- Watch some good comedies. You will literally change the way you feel by watching movies that make you laugh. I enjoy Jim Carrey movies or classics like Airplane and the Naked Gun series.
- Eat natural, whole, organic and fresh foods. When we are feeling down we tend to indulge in foods that do not serve us. What we place into our body will have a direct effect on how we feel. Limit comfort foods as much as you can. I know this is hard to do, but being healthy both mentally and physically will really help you to cope with the winter blues.
- Get Cooking. I love to find new recipes online and re-create them in my kitchen. There is something therapeutic about preparing and cooking meals at home.
- Go for a drive. Take the family out or go solo for a relaxing, scenic country drive. Remember to keep a bag in your trunk for emergencies including extra clothes, gloves, food, drinks and a first aid kit.
- Call your friends and family and catch up with them. Schedule a lunch or dinner date with them and offer to pay for it too. They will definitely say “yes” to this.
- State five things for which you are grateful at the beginning and ending of each day. Today I am grateful for my health, my family, my home, my car, my creativity, etc.
- Do some yoga for about five or ten minutes in the morning because it will set your mood for the rest of the day. You can search YouTube for some great videos about yoga.
- Make a smoothie. My family and I absolutely love smoothies and we generally make them at least four days a week. Smoothies are packed full of vitamins and minerals which help to support the good feelings in the body. My favorite smoothie recipe uses raspberries, bananas, avocado, spinach, lactose free kefir milk, ice, and organic honey as a sweetener.
- Re-connect with your soul by writing out your feelings of why you feel the way you do. This process could take some time but you may uncover a limiting belief about why you feel sad or depressed during the winter. Once you discover the limiting belief you will be much more able to take action to feeling better.
Your body is a like an instrument. You must keep it tuned at all times in order for it to work properly for you. The best way to improve your moods is by feeding your body the right foods, getting enough daily exercise, getting enough rest, and of course don’t forget to have fun and play.
This post is written by Justin Mazza from Mazzastick Personal Growth blog. Be sure to sign up for his free newsletter and receive a copy of his latest eBook: The Personal Growth Handbook – Personal Development 101.
Justin is a husband, father, and blogger who has committed himself to being a life-long student and teacher of personal and spiritual growth. He began his personal development journey back in 1997 reading over 700 books about personal development, spiritual growth, health and nutrition and metaphysical studies.
Justin has recently added personal coaching services to help people achieve their dreams by re-connecting with who they really are.