As temperatures drop and daylight hours lessen, wintertime can be challenging, and sometimes the idea of keeping a positive outlook can feel really difficult.
On those days, it helps to have a few mood-boosting practices that you can count on nurture your mind, body and spirit.
Here are a few that I rely on to keep me feeling my best – physically and mentally.
- Prioritize Sleep. Missing out on a good night’s sleep can bring you down and leave you feeling depleted. Aim to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Keep it Real. Focus on eating whole foods – green and colorful veggies, clean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains – to keep you nourished and feeling your best.
- Get Moving. Set aside time every day to move your body and get your heart rate pumping – it’s one of the best ways to keep your spirits high and your mental health in check.
- Eat Vitamin D-Rich Foods. We mostly glean this “sunshine nutrient” from sun exposure; and because there’s less sunlight during the winter months (and we spend more time indoors) many adults become deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to fatigue, lack of energy, and feelings of sadness. Incorporate vitamin-D rich foods, like wild-caught salmon or tuna, almond or coconut milk, shitake and morel mushrooms, eggs and cod liver oil to reverse or avoid a deficiency. You can also ask your doctor to run a blood panel, and if you’re running low on vitamin D, consider supplementing with 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day (or per your doctor’s recommendation).
- Reduce Alcohol and Sugar. Both can increase anxiety levels as well as symptoms of depression, so limit your intake as much as possible.
- Journal. Think about what you need to feel happier and more joyful. Then write down everything that comes up. It’s all about taking your mind off what’s bumming it out and redirecting your attention to activities that bring you enjoyment.
- Detach From Your devices. All of them, if possible! So much of what we consume causes stress and anxiety – turn off the TV, put down the iPad and consider giving yourself a digital curfew (1-2 hours before bed is ideal!).
- Cultivate Mindfulness. Developing a mindfulness practice that includes peaceful activities like meditation, breathing exercises, gratitude and/or repeating affirmations and/or mantras is one of the best things that you can do to elevate your mood and reduce anxious or depressive feelings. Just a few minutes a day (of any one of these techniques) has been shown to make a huge difference in your emotional state.
- Pay Attention to Your Self-Talk. The inner critic, that little voice inside that whispers approximately 50,000+ thoughts a day can be cruel! In fact, 80% of thoughts tend to be negative and 95% are repetitive, making it really hard to keep a sunny disposition. Try to spot when the internal chatter is cynical and unkind. Notice any self-talk that is complaining, comparing and/or criticizing, then flip the script to something more positive. You can even reminder yourself that: “It’s just a thought and a thought can be changed.”
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help. If things feel too overwhelming to handle alone, know that you don’t have to. Reach out to a friend, family member or even a therapist – talk to someone that you trust and let them know how they can support you as you navigate and manage any feelings of unhappiness or despair.
I hope that these practices help boost your mood and keep you feeling your best all winter long.