Now that the holidays are officially over and many of us are back to work, the days seem long, dark, and gloomy. Most of us can relate to feeling the winter blues—having less energy, being more tired, overeating, and a general feeling of malaise. And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are four times more likely to experience seasonal depression than men.
There’s no need to suffer through the season—here are seven ways to help boost your mood.
Crank Up the Tunes
There’s a wealth of scientific and social evidence that says music affects our mood. Adding new music into your playlist is a great way to refresh your attitude and your day.
Do One Positive Thing for Yourself and Others Every Day
Make your bed. Smile at a stranger. Eat breakfast. Buy someone a coffee. Text or call a friend to ask how they are. Clean your car. Pick up a piece of litter. There’s joy in the small but purposeful things that help us to think a little wider than ourselves.
Plan Something to Look Forward to
To boost your everyday morale just a little bit higher, plan a weekend away, arrange to see a friend, book a spa day, or take your kids on a surprise winter getaway. Whatever does it for you.
Make Your Environment Brighter
When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.
Certain foods, like fish, eggs, and even chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates, provide temporary feelings of euphoria but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Eat smarter to boost your mood and feelings of calmness. (Your immune system will thank you, too!)
Remember to Practice Self-care
Self-care includes giving your body what it needs (physically and mentally), even if you don’t feel like doing so—eating well, keeping mobile, resting, setting a rigid bedtime routine, taking a hot shower. It also includes doing nice things for yourself. Go for a walk, take a bath, or read a good book.
Ask for Help
If you need help dealing with specific challenges, your CalPERS-managed health care insurance includes many mental health options. Also, if you are a State of California employee, you can access free and confidential resources to help you through difficult times with the Employee Assistance Program.