Let’s face it – the come down from the holidays is real. The weather is crummy, you’re struggling to get back on track following a period of indulgence, the credit card bills come in – there’s a reason that Blue Monday is January 21! But instead of turning to a glass of wine, or a binge watch of your favorite show, why not look to some natural mood boosters guaranteed to get those endorphins pumping and your spirits up.
Catch those zzzs.
We’ve all been there – a lack of sleep leads to a short temper, increased emotions, a feeling of hopelessness or general overwhelm, but in fact it could be even more severe. Those who are still struggling to get their sleep patterns on a normal schedule post holiday have far greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. In fact, people with insomnia are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety. Reduce the risk by getting at least 8 hours a night. Ensure your room is dark, cool, and quiet to get the maximum benefits.
Modify your diet.
Kick the empty calories, sugar-laced drinks and snacks, and alcohol to the curb – they can all lead to increased feelings of anxiety and depression, not to mention a slew of heart, skin, and weight problems that they can lead to! Instead get smart about your diet, looking towards feel good foods like salmon (loaded with EPA and DHA which may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties), dark chocolate (which contains flavonols, an antioxidant that may benefit brain function), and citrus fruits or bell peppers (which are rich in vitamin C, offering antioxidant properties that may help reduce inflammation and prevent damage to cells that may promote anxiety).
Bust a Move.
As Elle Woods famously said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy.” But what about exercises that can do even more? A study published in the European Journal of Sport Science indicated that in addition to the obvious health benefits of dance, recreational dancers demonstrated positive mood changes. Taking it one step further, the BBC published research that identified that “dance and movement are known to have physical and psychological benefits for those with mental illness.” Further, the music that accompanies your dancing can also pack a punch against depression and the winter blues. According to an article published in Time “It can also improve blood flow in ways similar to statins, lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and ease pain. Listening to music before an operation can even improve post-surgery outcomes.”
Write it Down.
There has been increasing evidence that journaling has a positive benefit on your well being, acting as a stress management tool and helping to promote creativity. Researchers showed that the act of writing accesses your left brain, which is more analytical, freeing up your right brain to create, intuit and feel. Essentially writing it all down removes mental blocks, plus it helps you clarify your feelings and make sense of yourself and your reactions, allowing you to approach the situation from a more measured and less reactive place.
And most importantly – remember that like most things in life, this too shall pass. Winter is not forever – soon enough, it will be spring.