• Ashley Smith

6 ways to beat the winter blues NOW!

As I cozy up to my computer on this dreary, rainy day my mind starts to wonder to all the dark days ahead and how long these winter months are going to feel. I mean, wasn't it just winter? didn't we already do this? Here in the Midwest our winters are long but the summers are heaven and that's what keeps most of us here. As winter looms so does my dread. every winter is just a little harder than the last. Some of you may wonder why, while others may already know the feeling.

I struggle with Seasonal affective disorder or s.a.d. It is a type of depression that is related with changes in season, typically the winter months.

Symptoms can include feeling tired and sluggish, low energy, trouble concentrating, sleeping issues, appetite changes and moodiness, along with a variety of other symptoms.

in the past when I would think of depression I would visualize being unable to get out of bed, BARELY being ABLE TO FUNCTion, I didn't realize that it could come in a variety 'flavors.' As more awareness is shed on mental health so is my knowledge on it. for so long I couldn't understand why I was able to get my self out of bed every morning but my days would feel like trudging through mud. I would wonder what was wrong with me? as if beating myself up in my head would magically cure me. Instead I was left beat down and even more discouraged. As mental health becomes more common place to talk about so are the resources available to us. I know that I refuse to go through another winter running into the wind!! Ain't nobody got time for that!! I am committed to doing better and learning more about this challenge. There are so many routes that you can take to manage s.a.d. and there is no judgment which way you decide is best for you.

my approach tends to favor more of a holistic route, Maybe its because growing up my grandma always had a herb, vitamin or tincture that could 'cure' you. in my mind when something is wrong I look for the most natural alternative to address the issue. So as winter looms I am preparing myself with all the tools to support myself from the inside out! and IF there is one thing that I have learned, it's that I am never alone in my struggles. I hope that by sharing what works for me and why, maybe it can help you too!! Because... we are always better together!

6 ways to beat the winter blues:

1.) Monitor your sleep

getting a good nights sleep is an important part of managing depression. 7-9 hours a night is recommended to help you feel well rested, leave you with more energy, better focus and overall improved mood. sleep issues can often be the first sign of depression. For a better nights rest Put down screens a hour before bed. quiet your surroundings which therefore can help quiet your mind, If journaling is your thing, nighttime is a great opportunity to get all your thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper to lighten the load while you sleep. If poor sleep plagues you may also consider supplementing with melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body when it's time to go to bed. research suggests that People struggling with sleep, find melatonin helps them relax and fall asleep easier. Give it a try if you're looking for a natural alternative sleep aide.

2.) Manage your stress

depression has many possible causes, such as genetic predisposition, brain chemistry and your life situation. Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing depression if you are not coping with it well. Make sure to check in with yourself daily and listen to what your body is telling you. You are in control of your life and only you can recognize your limitations and make choices based on what is most realistic for you.

3.) Move daily

30 minutes of daily movement helps reduce anxiety. depression and negative mood. it not only increases blood flow to the brain, it releases endorphins, the bodies natural antidepressant. serotonin is also released which naturally lifts your mood. Not to mention the added confidence you gain from tackling challenging workouts. you got this boo!

4.) Nourish your body

eat a balanced diet of mostly Whole, nutrient dense Foods. What does that mean? It means, that you limit processed foods and focus on eating food in its most natural state. at the grocery store you stick to the perimeter, filling your cart with mostly fruit, veggies, meats/proteins, and fats. when fighting depression you may crave carbohydrates, which are linked to the mood boosting chemical, serotonin. experts aren't sure but carb cravings could be related to low serotonin levels. when struggling with depression, Choose your carbs wisely, limit sugary foods and aim for complex carbs like sweet potatoes, quinoa or beans. If you need some guidance with how to build a better plate I'm always here to help!

5.) Supplement your diet

ever considered supplementing your diet with vitamins to help support your mood? this is where I can thank my grandma fisher for introducing me to herbal supplements. while the majority of your vitamins and minerals should come from your food, when that isn't enough supplements come in for extra support. when battling the winter blues vitamin d is perfect for the assist.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our body produces it when exposed to the sun, People often feel better when they take vitamin d because it improves serotonin levels, which can act like a natural antidepressant.

magnesium is another super star when is comes to battling depression. magnesium is a mineral that plays a critical role in brain FUNction and mood. in one trial of depressed adults taking maGNESIUM daily improved mood as effectively as an antidepressant. say what?!? These two superstars pair well when taken together.

6.) Play

When was the last time you played? like, forgot about work and commitments type of play? if you're like most, it's probably been awhile. not only is play fun but it can also relieve stress, help you connect with others and lead you to be more productive and happy. Not sure how to play these days? learn from the best teachers around, children!! set aside time to do whatever you want. be spontaneous. choose something you enjoy, maybe something you haven't done since being a child yourself. and most importantly, be present and enjoy the change of pace.

so as winter approaches, let's replace our dread with a plan instead. it starts with one step or one choice to be 1% better than yesterday. The hard days will come but when they do you will be prepared for them. be committed to being the best version of yourself because when you are, you are able to show up better for all those around you and the world needs more of that.

until next time, stay well my beautiful friends!



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