Feeling the winter blahs? Here are 19 tips on how to beat them
1. Increase your daily serving of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and sardines offer some of the best sources; for an easy way to incorporate more into your diet, try a spoonful of fish oil with room-temperature vegetables or melted cheese. Don’t like fish? Try ground flaxseed instead.
Pomegranates and berries are also high in antioxidants that can help fight off those wintertime blues.”
2. Boost your vitamin B levels with brewer’s yeast found at most health food stores or from packaged fortified cereals or nutritional yeast.
3. Fill up on foods that are rich in vitamin C, which stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins; citrus is one of the best sources, but red bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and broccoli are other good picks. Oranges now contain more than 100% of your daily recommended intake for C!
4. Meet your magnesium needs with cashews or almonds (the darker varieties offer up to 80% RDI per ounce), soybeans (a half-cup contains 40% RDI), spinach or white beans – enjoy a warm bowl of white bean chili made with veggie stock instead of water for a healthy dose.
5. Choose medium-chain triglycerides as your primary fat source – they help with energy and mood. One easy way to do this is by adding coconut oil to your morning coffee (don’t add sugar!), which can help boost feelings of well-being and reduce fatigue.
6. Snack on walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds (yes, they’re technically a fruit) – each contains more than 100% daily value for vitamin E per ounce! Other good sources include avocados, peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. Toss them into salads or mix them with raisins in oatmeal to create your power bar.
7. Load up on iron by adding spinach, lentils, or dried apricots to tomato sauce when making spaghetti; sprinkle dried cranberries over chicken before baking; or stir edamame into a green salad – each provides up to 18% daily value for iron.
8. Go fish: Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal-based products (mainly fish and dairy) and your body’s ability to absorb it starts to decline after age 50; you can also take a supplement if needed.
9. Drink plenty of water, which will help clear out toxins that can make you feel sluggish and unhappy. Make sure it’s filtered tap water (fluoride is good for teeth but not such a big fan for the rest of the body); mineral water with electrolytes boosts hydration even more!
10. Sip on calming herbal teas like chamomile before bedtime.
11. Engage in natural light during the day and avoid bright screens after dark to boost your melatonin production – this hormone helps regulate sleep and mood; you should also dim indoor lights as much as possible at night (some people keep a small flashlight by their bed).
12. Exercise regularly: Even if it’s just a 20-minute power walk around the park, it will boost mood and energy levels for several hours afterward. What about the weather? Put on rain gear or bundle up and go anyway! Just 10 minutes of activity can leave you feeling more relaxed and energized than before you started, according to MayoClinic.com.
13. Put together a playlist filled with songs that make you happy – try the Top 25 Most-Played on Pandora, which can lift your spirits in no time.
14. Keep a journal to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper (doesn’t matter if you do it electronically or with pen and paper) – the act of moving them into the “real world” makes them more tangible and easier to deal with, reducing stress; studies found that writing helped students improve their moods even more than listening to music or taking a nap!
15. Try to identify the things that make you stress out more than you need to – for example, is it as big a deal as you’re making it in your head? Once you pinpoint what’s bugging you, brainstorm some solutions and practice them until they feel natural; then move on to the next problem area.
16. Practice self-care: If anyone needs their daily 10 minutes of silence, it’s you! Set an alarm during your morning shower and use those few moments to be alone with your thoughts (resist checking emails!). Wake up before everyone else so you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee sitting outside at sunrise – there’s nothing like fresh air and birds singing to brighten your mood. You can also write out a to-do list for the day or just think about what you need to get done – whatever helps you relax and focus.
17. Eat breakfast every morning – studies show that those who skip this meal tend to have more health problems, including depression, overeating, and low energy levels. Even if your mornings are hectic, shoot for something small like a piece of fruit or a yogurt smoothie!
18. Meditate No need to take up a religious practice – simply sit down somewhere quiet once in the morning and once at night (or whenever feels best) and breathe slowly from your diaphragm; count each breath as you inhale and exhale (and aim for 10 full breaths). Studies found that this natural stress reliever lowered blood pressure and eased the pain in cancer patients, among others.
19. Limit your caffeine intake to one or two cups of coffee or tea per day (or skip it altogether if you feel you cannot function without it) – too much raises cortisol levels, making us more stressed out; also avoid soda, which has its own set of health issues. And check ingredient lists for creamers and flavorings that contain trans-fats, which are associated with anxiety and depression.