Saturday, September 20, 2014

3 Ways to Decrease the Winter Blahs

It's dark at 5 o'clock these days and we can all feel old man winter's grip is here to stay. I can bet that we are all affected by the snow covered and sometimes isolated and dreary days of winter. If you're anything like me, you're experiencing a difficult part of the season....The winter blues. In an effort to maintain physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well being, I decided to create a wellness plan to carry me through to spring. Here are 3 ways you too can beat the winter blahs. 
1. Exercise to get your endorphins going, which will make you feel happy.  Endorphin release varies from person to person. Some people will gain endorphin benefit in 10 minutes, while it might take others 30. When endorphins flood your brain you you feel amazing. This feeling is often referred to as "runners high". This flood of feel good chemicals helps boost your mood and wards off depression. So get your body moving in whatever way feels good to you, and remember: the best exercise is the one you actually want  to do. 

2. Schedule a social life. Plan at least one activity each week to look forward to. This will help to cure loneliness and create human connections that are a vital part of winter wellness. 

3. Eat feel good foods
According to Julia Ross, MA:
"Eat wisely. This means, pushing away the leftover cake and eating sensible carbs to stimulate serotonin. Sweets and simple carbs, like white rice and white bread, quickly raise blood sugar, flood you with insulin, and then drop you in to a hole. Eating wisely also means watching the caffeine, which suppresses serotonin. "If you must drink coffee, save it for after the meal, Ross also recommends a nutritional supplement called 5HTP, which raises serotonin levels. This is not for everybody, read all labels carefully. 5HTP should only be taken for a short period, to bump up serotonin levels, which will then stay elevated. "You don't take it forever," she says.

Protein, she says, should be eaten three times a day. Another good rule is to eat four cups of brightly colored veggies a day. "This is enough to fill a (pardon the expression) 1 quart ice cream container." Vegetables are carbs, but the kind that feed into your system slowly.

Samantha Heller, MS, RD, says it's best to substitute fruit for cookies and chocolate ice cream. In general, the good carbs of veggies, fruit, and beans help energy levels.

Applying these simple strategies to your winter rut will increase energy, mood, health and overall vitality. Hang in there, Spring is just around the corner. 

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