Does winter ever get you feeling funky?
Not talking the fun Bruno Mars “get down and get funky”. A few days of feeling down or tired, going through the motions and losing motivation to have an awesome day. That kind of funk. We all go through it, but here are a few easy ways to get back on track with the right kind of funk in these winter months.
Winter can be a bad combination of not enough light, lots of sitting inside, the festivities are over, the bills have come in, and you can feel like going back to bed before the day has even started!! Blah, nobody wants to feel the winter funk! (Unless it’s a cool new viral YouTube dance) Recently moving to Indiana from Las Vegas, I’ve felt the foggy cold days of this winter a little harder than usual, just not myself and in a bit of a funk. I am used to getting outside everyday, and since I hate being cold, that doesn’t happen a lot here in winter. Bring me an electric blanket, and a cup of tea, please! After a bit of research, these are a few tools and habits to help you get back to feeling awesome.
1. Simulate the Sun
Make your environment brighter by getting out in the sun or using a full-spectrum UV-free light box like the one below.
I have to give my husband credit for this idea. He loves to research and purchased this light box for the family after reading several articles about their benefits.
Without enough sunlight, our levels of serotonin can dip low. This is what helps us feel content, happy, and awake. Our natural body clocks can become disrupted without sunlight and Vitamin D levels can decline. This Mercola article goes into further detail about the amazing mental health benefits of sunlight.
This little lamp is pretty amazing. It’s light and portable, and from the manufacturer, NatureBright, “This light therapy lamp produces a 10,000 LUX light, designed to boost your mood and energy by mimicking the effects of a sunny sky. Meanwhile, negative ion therapy brings you the positive properties of nature’s most calming scenes. The Sun Touch Plus emits a healing 17,000-Kelvin UV-free light, which is equivalent to blue sky light in North Pole.” I use this one from NatureBright
Just about 30 minutes a day of this light and we all feel better and sleep better. Don’t worry, no tan-lines or sunburns will come from sitting in front of this lamp. (darn, I really could use a tan, but not on my face!)
2. Find Time to Move EVERYDAY
Call it the new ‘Happy Hour’ with benefits. In a study from Harvard University in 2005, people that walked quickly for 35 minutes 5 times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. WHAT?! A natural, free, and easy way to raise those happy hormones (endorphins and norepinephrine) and increase metabolism? But sometimes, we can’t get out and walk, or have a treadmill at home, so here are 5 Mood-Boosting workouts to try at home. Set small intentions to move for even a few minutes everyday to raise your heart rate and your mood.
3. Turn On some Beats
Whether you put on head phones or turn it up loud in the car, put on some upbeat music. Music can have a powerful influence on our emotions. When I’m cleaning, driving, working out, or cooking, a good playlist of upbeat songs can really increase my mood and productivity, (I love some 90’s hip hop, pop, country, and indie alternative). Even my kids can’t seem to stay grumpy long when I turn on a fun song and start dancing around. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.
4. Eat Smarter – Avoid Candy and Empty carbohydrates
It’s all about balance, right? Eating a snacks and meals with complex carbohydrates, low-fat proteins, and healthy fats high in Omega-3s, can significantly increase energy, mood, and satiety. Even chocolate can have great mood-boosting effects, just make sure it’s not full of added sugar, milk, artificial flavoring and coated in candy. Go dark, buy the high-quality organic chocolate that may cost more, but has fewer ingredients, and really savor the ounce or square and save the rest for tomorrow. Don’t deprive yourself of treats, just take a little and save the rest. To avoid the sense of guilt that comes from overindulging in craved foods, include them in small amounts with meals and avoid them when hungry. Whose gone grocery shopping when hungry and come out with a whole basket full of stuff they never intended to buy? Or snack time turned into a binge because it had been too long since a meal?
A study from Dartmouth University suggest that “foods directly influencing brain neurotransmitter systems have the greatest effects on mood, at least temporarily. In turn, mood can also influence our food choices and expectations on the effects of certain foods can influence our perception.”
Know what you’re eating: Reading labels and nutritional info before you eat can lead to better food choices or smaller portions.
Have some healthy snacks and small meals ready in the fridge or in the car and avoid the impulse drive-thrus and candy bars.
“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food” Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, had it right.
5. Vacation Plan
Do you have a bucket list of places you want to go? Longing for a day on a sunny beach? We all want to get away and relax, and have something to look forward to. Even if it’s not in the budget right now, plan out your dream vacation and an estimate cost so you can start saving for it. Or plan a Staycation close by that wouldn’t cost much. You can even put a time on your calendar this week to take a “mini-vacation” and get a pedicure or massage. My favorite mini vacation is to use my favorite bath salts, candles, and turn on a bluetooth speaker with the Spa Station on the Pandora Radio app.
6. Help Others
Thinking of others and doing something selfless can really change the focus of our minds. Volunteering at a church or soup kitchen, bringing a plant to a friend who is sick, donating time and resources to a non-profit, anything the shifts the focus on what we can give, rather than what we don’t have. Life satisfaction increases and it makes a difference in the lives of those you help.
7. Clear Out Clutter
Getting organized and clearing out clutter are big helps to increase calm and happiness, for me personally. All that extra stuff takes up physical and emotional “real estate” in our lives. Going through closets, rooms, and desks can bring focus, clarity, and space to visually and emotionally breathe. Minimalism is a big trend right now, the “less is more” mentality. And for good reason. Less expectation and comparison, less spending, and less clutter. We don’t need more things to make us happy, sometimes we need LESS. Set a goal to go through and donate, sell, or throw away things that don’t serve you.
Hopefully, some of these lifestyle changes can help lift your spirits and keep the winter blues at bay. They have helped my whole family this year through our first cold and semi-dark winter here. Now, I’m off to plan a vacation and get in some steps today. Have a lovely day, beautiful!