There’s something about the colder weather that’s just so… blah. Some of us turn into big ogres starting in November, which only gets worse once the cheerfulness of the holiday season wears off in January.
Ugh, winter. Am I right?
It feels like there’s so much to be miserable about. And it’s easy to fall into that trap. This is the season when bad habits tend to flourish, with too many of us just giving in and waiting it out until spring comes to give us a bit of a mood boost.
This year, don’t be one of those people. Making a conscious effort to change your attitude and break your negative mindset is so worth it.
Here are some tips on how to start.
1. Make sure you’re getting enough of that sunshine vitamin.
Anyone who lives in a location with cold winters likely already knows about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you suspect you could be suffering from it, it would be best to talk to your doctor. He or she may give you a recommended dosage of vitamin D to take daily.
According to some studies, supplementing with vitamin D is an easy and cost-effective solution to treating some individuals’ depression and other mental issues. Getting outside during the daytime or investing in a therapeutic light box are also ideal ways to naturally boost vitamin D levels.
2. Stay warm by exercising and moving around regularly throughout the day.
Lots of people are cold and cranky because they don’t move around much in winter, and they don’t move around much in winter because they’re cold and cranky. It’s an endless cycle that can only be broken with—you guessed it—body movement.
Both your cold body and cranky mind will benefit from a regular exercise regime in the winter. Exercise increases your body temperature while studies have proven that it also decreases anxiety/depression and boosts mood.
3. Lay off the caffeine.
It might be tempting to down 14 cups of coffee a day to ward off winter’s chill, but caffeine is a serotonin killer. According to WebMD, research suggests that a serotonin imbalance can negatively affect people’s moods—sometimes enough to lead to depression.
You don’t have to give up coffee or tea altogether, but limiting your consumption to just 1 or 2 cups in the morning might be helpful. Try caffeine-free herbal teas, decaf coffee or a healthy hot chocolate (hot water mixed with pure cocoa) to warm you up instead!
4. Eat healthy foods that boost serotonin.
Taking care of your diet is another way to naturally boost your serotonin levels and put you in a better mood. Swap the sugary stuff and refined carbs instead for sources of lean protein and healthy fats (with plenty of veggies and fruits too, of course).
Foods high in omega-3s are ideal. Choosing types of fish that come packed with omega-3s like wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies will also give you a nice helping of protein at the same time.
5. Avoid drudgery at work and at home.
Winter is pretty much the season of drudgery. Wake up, go to work, come home, lounge around for a bit, go to bed and do it all over again. No wonder so many people are in a bad mood!
Aim to do anything and everything you can to shake your routine up a bit with things you enjoy and new ways to challenge yourself. Plan something fun at work with your coworkers, get back in touch with an old hobby, take on a new project at home or try getting involved in a new winter sport. Your mind needs it.
6. Talk back to your negative voice.
Too many people don’t even realize that they’re just victims of their own negative thoughts. Telling yourself how much you hate how dark it is, how terrible it is to be cold all the time or how hopeless everything seems this time of year may really just be a bad habit you’ve unconsciously conditioned yourself into doing over the years.
Start becoming more aware of your negative thinking and use that same voice to challenge it. Sure, it’s dark during the colder months, but is that really a valid reason to be miserable? It might be cold, but you’re the only one who’s preventing yourself from doing something to warm you up.
This type of self-talk isn’t easy for stubborn folks because it requires quite a bit of open-mindedness and awareness, but with enough practice, this alone has the power to change your entire mindset.
7. Spending less time with electronics and more time socializing with friends and family.
You know what’s super duper tempting? Burying your head in your laptop / tablet / smartphone until spring. Or having a Netflix marathon. Whatever offers the best distraction from the cold and darkness the most.
Spending too much time in front of electronics pulls you away from your most important relationships and keeps your mind fixed on cheap sources of stimulation that don’t benefit you in the long-run. They can actually make you more anxious or depressed, and the light from your devices can really mess with your sleep cycle.
Limit screen time for the whole family and pull out a board game. Make a coffee date with someone. Go for a walk with your partner or spouse and see how many houses you can count that have really great Christmas light displays.
Whatever you do, don’t let your bad mindset get the best of you this season. You’re so much stronger than that!