The shortest days of the year have arrived, and I don’t know about you, but I am feeling it! As someone who is not a fan of cold weather and snow, Winter is my least favorite season. I self diagnosed myself with Seasonal Depression Disorder a few years ago, and ever since then I have made it a top priority to take care of myself and be in charge of my emotions. It isn’t easy and it takes some work, but I can honestly say that since I’ve been doing these five things, my mood during the Winter month’s has increased dramatically.

1). Eat Healthy Food: Stay away from highly processed foods, sugar, and salty foods and increase more healthy foods into your diet. Eating a clean diet full of fruits, vegetables and high quality proteins will help keep your moods stabilized. Include omega 3 and 6 containing foods like seeds and nuts, avocados, salmon, eggs, and healthy oils like olive and flax seed in your meals, all of which have been proven to help boost your mood. When in doubt, add more veggies! The more vegetables you have in your diet, the more energy you will have and the more you body will be able to fight off colds and flus.

2). Drink Small Amounts of Coffee: Studies show that coffee can actually help with depression and negative moods. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I will admit that during the Winter month’s I will typically have a cup or two each week on the days when I find myself a little down. The coffee does help to boost my mood. If you drink coffee, make sure to drink extra water; coffee dehydrates your body and your body needs to stay hydrated in the dry Winter’s air.

3). Move more: There are a ton of fun Winter activities that you can do to get you out and moving! If you live in a colder climate where there is snow you can enjoy sledding, ice skating, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or simply take a walk in the brisk Winter’s air. If spending your time outdoors in the cold isn’t your thing, you can get a membership at a YMCA, gym, or yoga studio. If you don’t have the funds to workout outside of your home, even spending a few minutes each morning when you wake up doing simple stretching, yoga moves, or some crunches or sit-ups can work wonders for your body and your mind. My favorite Winter’s activity is taking a walk during my lunch when the sun is bright and shining – helps give my body so much needed vitamin D. There are multiple ways to move more, find what works best for you and stick to it!

4). Be social: Lets be honest, when the weather is cold and dreary, it can sometimes be difficult to go out and be social; however, spending time with friends and family can be therapeutic and help boost your mood. Get your friends together and plan a ladies night, make plans with another couple for dinner, or plan a fun family activity like sledding or bowling. Get out and have fun! Remember, laughter is the best medicine!

5). Get Some Rest: Mammals hibernate this time of year, but we humans keep going with our day to day lives. We fill our days with work and taking care of our families, and we’re lucky if we can find time to get a workout in. We continue along with our fast pace lifestyle no matter what the season, not taking into account that our bodies need to slow down and rest. As difficult it might be, taking some time for yourself this Winter and giving your body the rest it needs. Some ideas for resting include spending a few minutes meditating when you wake up in the morning, cozying up with a loved one and watching a movie, reading your favorite book in the bathtub or by the fire, or getting a massage. Also, make sure to get the sleep your body needs. Try turning off the computer and television and going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night.

If the lack of daylight and colder temperatures have you down this season, try incorporating these five practices in your own life. Be in control of your mindset and moods and say goodbye to the Winter blues!

By: Andrea Hood, Health Coach