Lifestyles Center Blog

SURVIVOR SERIES: SURVIVING “THE WINTER BLUES”

What we thought was an easy, mild winter has transformed into the tundra we all know and love (but mostly dislike greatly). The cold weather can really put a damper on our moods, eventually shoving us into a darkness commonly called “winter blues.” Avoid this by following these tips:

  1. Eat Happy Food. You know when they say, “You are what you eat?” Why not consume things that will make you feel good? Some “happy foods” include:
    1. Turkey- the tryptophan stimulates serotonin (the “feel-good” chemical) in our brains.
    2. Walnuts- the omega-3s in walnuts support overall brain health.
    3. Fatty fish (like mackerel, bluefish, wild salmon, and tuna) – contain fatty acids that have brain-boosting properties.
    4. Skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheese- contain peptides that induce a sense of well-being and relaxation.
    5. Whole grains- helps the body release serotonin.
    6. Green tea- contains Theanine, an amino acid that provides an anti-stress relaxation benefit to tea drinkers. Also, if you are really feeling blue, try switching from coffee to tea. It is shown that caffeine intake in coffee drinkers is likely to result in tension as opposed to the ‘relaxed alertness’ common to tea drinkers.
    7. Dark Chocolate-helps to release serotonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. Don’t eat too much of this though!
  2. Create Ambience. Have you ever noticed how the fluorescent lighting in hospitals and doctors’ offices somehow manage to make everything worse? Lighting can affect your mood, even if you don’t realize it. Sure, natural light is good for you and you should always go outside for a while each day to soak up some vitamin D, but natural light in the winter tends to have a gloomy, gray tint to it that can totally change the mood of a room. If you notice your dorm or house becoming gloomy, turn on a warm-colored lamp. The incandescent light is much more soothing than the gray reminder that winter is here to stay. If you really feel like creating some ambience, Netflix has a fake fireplace option that can turn the coldest day into a cozy, relaxing night.
  3. Keep Moving. A big reason people get “cabin fever” is because they are cooped up in the same place for too long. If you are like me and you wouldn’t be caught dead outside for any reason other than to walk to class or your car, do not fret. Your body is not as smart as everyone tells you. Well… maybe that is a little harsh but what I mean is you can trick your body out of “cabin fever.” Try yoga, jogging in place, sit-ups, jumping jacks, or any of your favorite exercises. Regular exercise helps increase mood in a number of ways, including: Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease sadness, reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression, and increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects.
  4. Know the Difference. A more extreme version of “the winter blues” is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression. Symptoms include:
    1. Less energy
    2. Trouble concentrating
    3. Fatigue
    4. Greater appetite
    5. Increased desire to be alone
    6. Greater need for sleep
    7. Weight gain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor at the Counseling Services Center in Mary Walker Health Center by calling (315)312-4416.

Written by Sarah Pasquarelli, Peer Educator

Photo Cred: Tea