Like pretty much everything else in life, the ‘fall back’ part of daylight savings has both pro’s and con’s.
Pro: It get’s lighter earlier so it’s easier to wake up earlier.
Con: It gets darker earlier so your body/brain is all WTF is going on?
And that my friends, is the basis of the winter blues, or seasonal depression for those very affected. According to research, your biological clock can detect the reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter. This can cause winter-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, or seasonal depression – which affects millions of people.
Bring On The Winter Blues
The reduced sunlight causes a disruption in the balance of our body’s melatonin. This basically tricks the brain into thinking it should be asleep when our bodies know they should be awake. It’s kinda like a game of tug of war between your brain and your body… except your brain would probably be laying on the ground napping instead of pulling it’s side of the rope because SAD results in lethargy, social withdrawal, and weight gain.
There are ways to treat/manage your seasonal depression such as light therapy and psychotherapy. I wouldn’t really recommend getting on an anti-depressant for your seasonal depression unless it becomes super unmanageable, but then again I’m not a doctor so what do I know? Ya know?! Haha anywayss… if you aren’t into light therapy or psychotherapy (or antidepressants) that’s okay because I’ve rounded up my favorite ways to make managing the winter blues totally doable!
7 Tools To Help You Fight The Winter Blues
1. Eat Healthy
As I said above, during this time of the year your body and your brain are kinda confused and off balance. Don’t confuse them even more with crazy processed foods. Give your body and your brain a break with nutritious whole foods. Aside from being kind to the body, it’s been proven that diets high in refined sugar are harmful to the brain by promoting cell inflammation that contributes to brain tissue injury, which is the connection between toxic foods and mood disorders or swings. So basically, long story short, eating healthy foods keeps your mood up which helps you fight the winter blues.
2. Light Up Your Home
Depending on where you live, it can start getting dark in the afternoon. And if you live in a valley totally surrounded by nothing but ranches and mountains like me… it can get dark around 4ish and when I say dark, I mean black out can’t see your hand in front of you dark. My boyfriend is always all “Babe, isn’t is so great not having any light pollution when it gets dark like this?! We can see the stars so clearly!” And I’m always all “Yeah it’s lovely but it might be nice to be able to see the mountain lions that hang out in our yard BEFORE they try to eat me and Myla… just sayin’ sugar!”
Kidding, kidding! Only kinda…
Anyways… when it’s been super dark for a couple hours by the time 6:00pm rolls around, I’m about ready to throw on my pj’s and hop into bed. Do you ever feel like that too?! A good way to fight this is by brightening up your home.
I’m not really a home decorating kind of person because I move a lot so I just bought a whole bunch of these floor lamps and called it a day. They aren’t super stylish but they get the job done. And personally, I like to get the bright white daylight lightbulbs because I just can’t stand yellowish hues. There are like a bagillion lightbulbs though so check out this guide for advice on what lightbulbs to buy depending on what you’re looking for.
Another thing you can do is turn lightening up your home into a fun project. My friend Rachel from The Confused Millennial has a super cute and affordable DIY tutorial for making cute lamps. Keep in mind, she made the lamp for her office so it might end up being too many colors if you’re into coordinating your home decor but you can still use her instructions and get a little creative by adding your own personal touch for each room.
3. Learn Something New
Learning something new is a great way to keep busy and fill your time when you start feeling down. I went to a therapy retreat about a month ago that got me into yoga which has been great for keeping me busy now that I’m back home. When I feel my mood starting to fall and my craving to recoil start to rise, I go into our spare room, open up one of my yoga books and start to practice different poses. It’s really fun and rewarding to see myself improve over time.
You can also take classes, do some art, try to teach yourself an instrument, work on your baking skills, etc. Learning something new gives you purpose and helps you fill your time and set goals to keep growing and developing.
4. Fill Up Your Afternoon and Evening
I like to save my errands for the afternoon so that I have a reason to be out and about once it starts getting dark, without doing things that may cost extra money like shopping or eating out (although the not shopping part doesn’t always go according to plan!). I also try to schedule appointments, meetings, and work calls for the afternoon to give me something to look forward to throughout the day.
5. Don’t Forget To Exercise (in the evening if possible!)
If you’re into yoga, (indoor) swimming, or walking (or basically any exercise that isn’t too intense) try to exercise around 6-7pm. Our bodies go through a cycle throughout the day, and the second Kapha period which starts at 6pm, is the best time to exercise and release the day’s activities. Also, your body will be warm and woken up from the day.
Exercising in the evening is also a great way to fill up your night. And if you try a new exercise class then you get triple bonus points for exercising, filling your evening, and learning something new!
6. Cook Dinner At Home
If you cook dinner at home you’ll most likely eat healthier than if you were to go out to eat which will keep you feeling good. Also, if you’re going to get crafty and creative with your cooking like my boyfriend does with his ramen, you might have to make a few more trips to the grocery store than you normally would which will help keeping you busy and fill your evening.
7. Get Some House Plants
Not only do houseplants help purify the air, they also help lift your mood and reduce stress. Grab this guide to indoor gardening if you aren’t sure how to take care of plants! Having plants in your home will help liven and brighten up your living area which will be a refreshing break from the bare plants outside. And if none of that good juicy stuff comes from a house plant for you, at least you’ll have a new friend!