Banish the Winter Blues
Banish the Winter Blues

Shorter days, a lack of sunlight and cold temperatures are a few contributing factors that result in fatigue, low spirits and decreased motivation; otherwise known as the winter blues. Fortunately, the following simple strategies can make the seasonal transition a little easier and help you feel better and more uplifted during this time of year.

Outdoor Activities
The benefits of spending time outside are important year-round; however, they are especially beneficial in the winter months. Getting fresh air and exposure to sunlight results in increased vitamin D and serotonin levels that regulate mood, happiness and anxiety. Being outside and receiving more sunlight also helps improve sleep, increase energy levels and decrease stress. Besides taking a walk, here are some ways you can enjoy the beauty of the season outdoors while beating the winter blues.

• Go sledding
• Build a snowman or snow fort
• Make snow angels
• Go skiing, snowboarding or ice skating
• Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk

Foods to Ease the Winter Blues
Consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, eggs, walnuts and soybeans, to boost the production of serotonin (the feel-good brain chemical that’s linked to mood regulation). Other foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients that nourish the body and improve mood include lean proteins, berries, spinach, beans, potatoes, oats, nuts, yogurt and dark chocolate.

Eating at regular intervals and at the same times every day can also assist in mood stability. Knowing what foods not to eat is equally important as knowing what to eat. During the winter months, limit foods with refined carbs and simple sugars such as candy, soda, white rice and white bread, as they can impact blood sugar levels and leave you with short bursts of energy followed by tiredness.

Indoor Activities
Sometimes, being cooped up inside can make us feel restless. With a bit of creativity, there are numerous things you can do to keep everyone in your house entertained.
Try the following family-friendly activities that will lift your spirits, create priceless memories and tackle the winter blues.

• Get cozy with a build-your-own hot chocolate bar or enhanced versions of this favorite seasonal beverage (see our recipe at right!)
• Invite the whole family to the kitchen to create and taste new recipes
• Snuggle up and watch a feel-good movie
• Build a reading nook with cozy blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals and have a reading marathon
• Create an indoor scavenger hunt