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5 Steps to Avoid the Winter Blahs

Author: Cara Walsh

February 23, 2015

5 Steps to Avoid the Winter Blahs

Author: Cara Walsh

February 23, 2015



As the holidays come to a close and winter sets in, many individuals start to feel blue, depressed, or just a little blah. If you experience this seasonal change, know firstly, that you are not alone, and secondly, that there are many ways to counteract these negative feelings. Below is a list of tips that can pull you out of your low diet rut and can help you to enjoy the beautiful winter season.

Wake Up to Light

One of the leading causes of the winter blahs is a lack of sunlight. As winter progresses, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Getting up in the morning becomes more difficult because the human body is designed to wake up to light. One way to alleviate this problem is to set up a lamp in your bedroom that is connected to a timer. Set the lamp to turn on half an hour before you need to get up. This will help to gently prepare your body to wake up and should make you feel better throughout the day.

Expose Yourself to Natural Light

Once the sun does arise, expose yourself to its light as soon as possible. The sooner you can get a good dose of sunrays, the sooner your body will be invigorated and ready for the day. Taking short breaks outside, throughout the day can also be helpful. Even five minutes of natural light can help to brighten your mood. As the days get shorter, your opportunities for basking in the sun decrease, so take advantage of the time you do have to get as much sunlight exposure as possible. Just remember, UV rays are present whether or not it is hot, so be sure that you do not neglect your sunscreen during the winter. Sunscreen does not block the sun’s positive effect on your mood.

Create Artificial Sunlight

A light box is a product that is designed to imitate natural sunshine. Many individuals use a light box during the winter to stabilize their mood. Melatonin is a hormone that is used to regulate mood and sleep, and is affected by the amount of light that passes through one’s eyes. A light box can be used to regulate the level of melatonin that is released in the bloodstream by emitting light that is as much as 20 times more intense than a traditional household light bulb. Light boxes are frequently prescribed by medical professionals and are even covered under some insurance plans.

Stay Active

When it is cold outside, it can be tempting to hibernate on the couch with a good book and a warm mug of hot chocolate. However, getting up and engaging in outdoor exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood. Plus, exercise can help you to maintain your weight loss goals, which is good for your mood as well. Exercise releases endorphins and neurotransmitters into your brain that are used to regulate mood. Finding and participating in a winter sport that you enjoy is a great way to get this exercise. Winter is something to anticipate with pleasure if you know that it brings with it ski trips in the mountains.

Avoid Over Eating

You may feel like you need to hibernate, but this does not mean that you actually need to prepare for hibernation by eating more than your diet allows. Weight loss during the winter is often sabotaged by cravings for foods that are high in sugars and carbohydrates. Although these foods do boost your mood in the short term, the effects do not last long; and the psychological effects of deviating from your diet plan tend to contribute to, rather than alleviate, the winter blahs. Oranges, pears, pomegranates, and kiwis are winter fruits that are naturally sweet and relatively low in calories. If you are feeling cold, warm up a sliced pear in the oven and sprinkle cinnamon on it for a filling treat.

About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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