Learn natural ways to beat the winter blues and holiday stress this season.
Thank you to Natrol for sponsoring this post. Note: the information given here is not medical advice. Please consult your doctor with any medical concerns or questions.
Suddenly it’s dark so early. The air is cold and I no longer want to spend time outdoors.
I’m constantly starving and all I want to eat is cake and chips. My energizing evening walks have given way to hot tea on the couch.
It’s no wonder I’m feeling blue.
The seasonal change in daylight and temperature, combined with the end of daylight savings time can lead to a lot of physical and mental changes and can affect your mood.
Have you been hit with the winter blues too?
Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Some people tend to start feeling the winter blues at the change of seasons – usually during the darker, colder months. People with the winter blues can often feel their energy sapped, their mood and appetite depressed and many other symptoms.
I know I do – especially right after the time change occurs and also in the depths of a Minnesota winter.
The winter blues are real my friends, but luckily there are some things we can do to alleviate our symptoms naturally.
Here are 7 natural ways to beat the winter blues:
1. Get Outside
Spending time outdoors in the cold might not be high on your list and I get it. Even after growing up in the Midwest, I’m still a bit of a winter wimp.
But whenever I do get outside, I notice my energy climbs and my mood improves. Fresh air and natural Vitamin D from the sun are two of the best things you can do to alleviate the winter blues and holiday stress! Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” for good reason – the sun helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, which is linked to improved mood.
Pro tip: Get in the habit of taking a walk outside at lunchtime. You’ll rev up your body and have a good chance of catching some rays!
2. Take Natrol 5-HTP
Healthy habits are key to beating the winter blues and holiday stress, but there are times when a supplement can be a great complement to your efforts. The supplement I take during the winter months is Natrol 5-HTP. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a drug-free and naturally-occurring amino acid that is derived from the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant. Natrol 5-HTP helps you achieve a more positive outlook and promotes calmness by naturally increasing your body’s serotonin levels.
Natrol 5-HTP is also a fantastic way to reduce stress during the hectic holiday season. We have a lot on our plates at this time of year and an effective, high-quality supplement like Natrol 5-HTP can really make a difference! (You can find Natrol supplements on Amazon, and at many local stores like Walgreens, Rite Aid, Costco, Sprouts and other natural food stores. Look for the signature purple bottle top!)
Pro tip: Natrol 5-HTP comes in both Fast Dissolve and Time Release tablets. Their great tasting Fast Dissolve tablets can be taken without water and their Time Release tablets slowly release to help you throughout the day. You choose what works best for you!
3. Exercise Frequently
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Exercise will make you feel better. Why? Because exercise produces endorphins, which trigger a happy feeling in your brain. Combine that with all the other benefits of exercise and it’s a no-brainer to get regular exercise year round.
My exercise of choice during the winter months is barre and cycle classes but I do love the occasional winter sports like skiing or ice skating outdoors. Find whatever exercise works for you and make it a priority all winter long.
Pro tip: Find ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine – like doing sit-ups while watching a show or jumping jacks in between chores. You’ll love that endorphin rush!
4. Eat Healthy Food
As we enter the holiday season where unhealthy temptations are abundant, it’s important to make the base of our diet healthier than ever.
Focus on nutritious whole foods and as well as mood-boosting foods that contain serotonin producing tryptophan (avocados, spinach, turkey), or brain-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, nuts and seeds) and even dark chocolate (YES!) because it reduces stress hormones.
Pro tip: Use the 80/20 rule to allow yourself room for holiday treats while eating healthy food most of the time! My mindful moderation mantra keeps me on track so I don’t overdo it on sweets that might leave me feeling funky later.
5. Try Meditation
It may sound strange but five to ten minutes of meditation could become the best part of your day. Meditation helps to calm the mind, reduce stress and give you a more positive outlook overall.
To get started with meditation, take advantage of the many free meditation apps, or simply sit and focus on your own breath for a few minutes. Don’t worry if it seems strange at first, you will get comfortable with it over time.
Pro tip: Do a mini-meditation while driving errands or standing in line. Every little bit helps calm your mind and lift your spirits!
6. Use a Light Therapy Lamp
Light therapy can be a very helpful tool to combat the winter blues. A light therapy lamp mimics outdoor light and has been shown to affect brain chemicals linked to mood.
Light boxes are relatively inexpensive and are super easy to use. Simply set up the lamp on a table so it is shining at your face indirectly and use for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. Light therapy is most effective when it is done during the morning hours. (We’re giving one away – see below!!)
Pro tip: If you don’t have a light therapy lamp, sit in a sunny window to catch some light as often as you can.
7. Get Good Sleep
Many of us struggle with sleep and find ourselves feeling crabby and depressed when we don’t get enough of it. Sleep and mood are closely connected so getting a good night’s sleep is critical for maintaining a positive attitude all year round!
Good nighttime habits like avoiding caffeine, turning off screens and allowing for quiet time before bed are a great place to start. Melatonin can also be a great supplement to use when dealing with times changes and other disruptions to your sleep schedule.
Pro tip: Diffuse lavender essential oil before bed to promote a calm environment.
What are your tips for beating the winter blues?