DolphinsLiveWell: Banishing the Winter Blues
February 23, 2017
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As the winter wears on, and wears on us, this might be a good time to stop and catch our breath. We find ourselves mid-February and the weather has most recently been gray, gloomy, and full of snow. We’ve maneuvered through the first part of the semester and while there has been somewhat of a respite from winter, and Spring Break is next week, there will still be plenty of winter when we return.
So now we are into the dead of winter and as we tend to do every year, we begin to wonder if spring will ever get here. Many of us are feeling unmotivated, tired, and down––we’re just so over it! When I was a student at Le Moyne, our philosophy was, if you made it until the end of February without breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend or your roommate(s), or bailing on classes, you’d make it until Spring Break. We would actually celebrate the last day of February.
So how do we get through the next couple of months without our mood and energy level sinking as low as the temperature outside? Taking some preventative steps right now can stave off the battle of the “winter blahs” and help us to be our best selves, now and when spring finally gets here.
We tend to crave carbohydrates in the winter because they help increase serotonin levels; they’re the body’s own “happy molecules,” but too much of the wrong carbohydrates can make you more tired, mentally fuzzy, and can even cause weight gain. Make an effort to include complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat pasta, grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables. And don’t forget to eat enough protein too.
Drinking plenty of water is essential because of how much time we spend indoors with the heat cranked up; it dries out our skin and leaving our bodies prone to illness. Keeping hydrated is as important during this time of year as it is in the summertime.
Sleep is another big factor in keeping your mood up during winter. The cold weather can make anyone want to crawl back under the covers, but over-sleeping will cause increased levels of melatonin, which will make us even more lethargic. Not getting enough sleep also has its downside. According to James Maas’ book, Power Sleep, if someone were to get six hours or less of sleep per night for a two week period, their level of functioning would be as if they had a BAL (blood alcohol level) of .08, the legal limit in New York State. Getting adequate amounts of sleep and avoiding fluctuating sleep patterns will keep us energized and performing optimally.
It’s extremely important to make sure you don’t forget to engage in activities that make you happy. The winter is a great time to discover new hobbies or to rediscover old ones. Check out “Crafting with Kim” at the Wellness Center or try out snowshoeing at the Recreation Center. Change up your routine and have dinner at the Den and attend one of the many awesome lectures or events on campus. There’s also no shame in binge watching Netflix if it entertains you or makes you laugh. Making time for yourself and what YOU enjoy can go a long way in getting through a long winter!