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Winter Wellness: How to Stay Positive and Energized

The season is getting the best of us as we move closer to winter; I can feel it! The days are getting cooler, the leaves are showing off their fall colors, and the store shelves are stocked with all-things fall and Christmas. (time, please slow down!).

No matter where you live, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, which means one thing: the winter drag, you know, that tired feeling you get when it’s dark and cold.

If you’ve ever experienced this feeling of winter blah, you’re not alone, and it’s a real thing with a real name: Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD can affect different people in different ways, and it happens most often during the fall and winter months. That’s how you can tell the difference between SAD and other mental health issues: SAD is seasonal.

When it comes to winter- or summer-related SAD, here are some specific things to watch for:

SAD in the winter months—sometimes called the “winter blues”—can be caused by less sunlight. If you’ve ever experienced any of these symptoms, you could have the winter blues:

  • Feeling like you want to hibernate. Give me those comfy sweats and a Netflix binge!

  • Experiencing some weight gain. Think about it: When you combine SAD with all those fall and winter holidays and all the yummy foods that come with the holidays, it can all add up to some extra lbs. on the scale.

  • Wanting to overeat. Those carbs, especially, are frequently calling your name!

  • Sleeping more than usual, even though studies show that 33-50% of us don’t get enough sleep! Why can this happen? Scientists believe that your body makes more melatonin during the months when the days are shorter, meaning there are more dark hours in the day, which can lead to more sleep. I’ve yet to see this one happen for me, but I’m still hoping!

How Common Is SAD? It affects around 10 Million Americans, and, unfortunately, it hits women 4x more often than men. Lucky us, right?! But here’s the deal: I firmly believe that if we can put a “name” to what we’re feeling, we’re better equipped to deal with it, right?!

4 Energy Boosting Tips For When You're Feeling S-A-D

When you experience any degree of SAD at any time of the year, or even when you might be feeling any of the SAD-related symptoms, there are some things you can do to not only feel better but also to increase your energy, especially if hibernating until March is looking more and more appealing.

Find Little Pieces of Sunlight

Sunlight triggers the release of more serotonin—a hormone that can boost your mood and increase your focus and feelings of calmness, so when the daylight hours are shorter and shorter, you can start to literally feel the absence of all that sunlight. So take advantage of any sunny fall and winter days by spending some time outside:

Take a walk, sit and enjoy some self-care time, work out, play with the kids,…whatever activities you can do outside that will help you get more rays.

This can also be a good time to book a vacation to that sunny destination you've been dreaming about.

Move Your Body

While it might seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your energy is by using your energy to move your body.

And I get it: When you’re feeling down, probably the last thing you want to do is work out. But not only can consistent exercise offer so many mental and physical health benefits, but it can also boost your energy! When you move your body, more oxygen and nutrients are available to help your cardiovascular system work better, giving you more energy for everything you want to do each day.

You don’t have to work out for hours and hours to get the energy-boosting benefits, either. Even a few minutes at a time can make a huge difference!

Get Social!

While I’m all about alone time, too much can increase any SAD symptoms you might be experiencing. When we spend time with those closest to us, we can feed off their energy, improving our own simultaneously!

And let’s be honest: Laughter is the best medicine for so many things we deal with, including a lack of energy and feeling SAD. So, make it a point to spend time with those who lift you up, make you laugh, have your back, and who you feel like you can just be “you” with. Those are your people. They can give you that much-needed energy boost, and you can do the same for them! Grab your best friend and brunch it out!

Pay It Forward: Spread Kindness

Remember…when you’re feeling SAD, you are part of a 10 million+ member club, so someone around you is probably also feeling the effects of the changing seasons in one way or another.

Seek them out, do something kind for them, and feel your energy levels rise.

When you serve others, it can also take the focus off of what you’re going through and put that focus on them and how you can help to make their life better. It’s a win all around!

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