5 Tips for Shaking Off Winter Blahs

Larissa Brown, M.S., is an international relationship coach and founder of EmpowerME: Coaching & Workshops.

Winter can be rough, especially for those of us who live far enough North to experience the brunt of the bitter cold and shortened days. Thankfully, spring is fast approaching, and while it’s often accompanied by a lift in spirits and energy, sometimes it can take us a bit to shake off our winter blahs.

Here are five tips for shaking off winter blahs at a glance, continue to the blog for full details.

  1. Wake up each morning with gratitude.
  2. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  3. How’s your vitamin D?
  4. Fit in a little fitness.
  5. Make time for a little nature every day.
💐 Countdown to Spring
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  1. Wake up each morning with gratitude: Setting your day out on in a positive frame of mind can have a huge impact on the rest of your day. Get into the habit of spending just a few minutes each morning thinking about one or two things that you are truly grateful for.

For example, If you wake up to more cold and damp weather, perhaps you are grateful for your warm coat. Or if you know you have a big presentation that day, perhaps you’re grateful for your colleague who helped you with your power point presentation.

Doing the hard work of training your brain to focus on the things that you are grateful for is a way to infuse positivity into your life year-round. If you are particularly keen on pushing yourself, try to think of something new that you’re grateful for each day – no repeats. After you’ve worked your way through the easy things it really pushes you to dig deep and exercise those gratitude muscles!

2. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep: How much sleep each person needs to feel rested can vary. It’s long been encouraged that adults should really be trying to get 8-hours of sleep each night but, this is just an average. You might be someone who needs 10-hours to feel fully functional, or one of those mystical creatures who can be ready to go after just six. Either way, knowing how much sleep is required for you to operate at your best is important, as is making sure to be diligent about getting enough sleep most nights.

Being well rested improves our mood, increases our energy, impacts our emotional and cognitive brain function, and even plays a significant role in balancing our hormones. Around this time of hear we are often feelings drained by the (seemingly) endless winter so being well rested as we move into spring will help to perk up our energy and moods.

3. How’s your vitamin D? According to Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE in 8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency, Vitamin D is a very important vitamin that impacts several systems all throughout your body. It’s found in certain foods, such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, but it’s very difficult to get adequate amounts through food alone. Your body can make its own vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to light, unfortunately for us northerners who spend a significant portion of our year with limited sunlight, our bodies often don’t produce sufficient amounts. As a result, according to a 2011 study, 41.6% of white adults, 69.2% of Hispanic adults, and 82.1% of Black adults in the United States are deficient.

There are many symptoms associated with having a vitamin D deficiency. Fatigue and tiredness and can have severe negative effects on your quality of life, and it has also been linked to depression, especially in older adults. If you think you have a deficiency, it’s important that you speak to your doctor and have your blood levels measured. Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is relatively easy to remedy by either increasing your sun exposure, increasing the amount of vitamin D enriched foods in your diet, or taking one of the many supplements you can find at your local grocery store or pharmacy.

4. Fit in a little fitness: Exercising isn’t just good for the rest of your body; science has long realized the importance that exercise can have on our brain function and mood as well. In this article Fitness Magazine outlines these positive effects, including increased cognitive functioning, improved memory, and activating parts of your brain that help you to think more clearly so you can make better decisions.

5. Make time for a little nature every day: According to this Health.com article being outside can offer relief for everything from depression to negativity. Make it a point to get outside for at least 10-minutes every day.

When you do, make a point to be present in that moment. Use all of your senses to observe the things around you. What do you see around you, are the first of the spring flowers fighting their way up through the snow? Are the birds starting to migrate back home? Are buds starting to pop up on bare tree branches? Notice what you hear, what you smell, what you can feel on your skin… being fully present and immersed in the moment is practicing mindfulness.

Being mindful helps us to stop the onslaught of thoughts in our head that are constantly bombarding us with regrets from our past and overwhelming feelings about our future.

It’s important to remember that doing something to improve your mood or your overall well-being is a step in the right direction. EmpowerME provides coaching and workshops to support you and your goals both online and in-person. Learn more about our services.

If you’re experiencing persistent hopelessness, thoughts of harming yourself or others, excessive drinking or drug use, sadness, tiredness, isolation, irritability, or frustration that are interfering with your daily life, your condition may be more than the winter blahs. Please talk to your doctor, there are resources and treatments that can help.

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
    • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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