/ 8 min

7 Tried and True Ways To Beat the Winter Blues

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By: KURU Footwear

After the conclusion of the winter holidays, you might find yourself grappling with symptoms like drowsiness, lethargy, or an increased craving for high-carb foods, and you’re certainly not alone in this experience. This phenomenon is often referred to as the winter blues, affecting one in four individuals with a noticeable dip in mood or productivity during the colder months. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression starting in late fall or early winter and easing as the weather improves, can manifest as feelings of depression, irritability, lethargy, and difficulty waking up. Diagnosing SAD typically requires observing more intense symptoms persisting for at least two consecutive years.

According to Michael Terman, PhD, director of the Winter Depression Program at New York Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center, individuals facing winter doldrums might encounter occasional difficulties waking up or getting out of bed, while those with seasonal affective disorder struggle with punctuality and more severe symptoms. Both conditions share a common root cause: sensitivity to the reduced sunlight during winter’s “shorter” days, disrupting our circadian rhythm or internal body clock.

Key Takeaways

  • One in four people suffer from a dip in mood or productivity during the winter months, which can be caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves.
  • Sensitivity to the lack of sunlight that results from winter’s “shorter” days and disrupts our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, is the cause of both the winter doldrums and SAD.
  • There are several ways to beat the winter blues, including making your environment brighter, exercising, staying social, keeping a healthy diet, making your bed every day, and taking a trip. Light therapy has been known to help in 80% of SAD cases.
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Invigorate Your Winter

1. Make Your Environment Brighter

Brightening your environment is a simple yet effective way to combat the winter blues. Start your day by opening windows to invite natural daylight into your home or workplace. Maximizing light exposure helps regulate your body’s sleep patterns, preventing an overproduction of melatonin, a hormone associated with darkness. In the winter, when daylight is limited, our bodies may interpret it as nighttime more frequently, leading to feelings of sluggishness or even depression. If opening a window isn’t an option, consider incorporating living plants or vibrant colors into your space to mimic the uplifting atmosphere of warmer months.

2. Invest in a Daylight Simulator

Consider investing in a daylight simulator, such as “dawn lights” or alarm clocks designed to emit UV rays or cheerful blue light that mimics natural daylight. These devices can be a game-changer, especially in the morning, as they help kickstart your day and promote a feeling of refreshment. Light therapy, with an impressive success rate of 80% in cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), has proven benefits in alleviating winter blues.

These simulated daylight sources work by influencing your body’s circadian rhythm, which can be disrupted during the darker winter months. The exposure to light helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promotes a sense of well-being. Incorporating a daylight simulator into your morning routine can be a simple yet effective step to enhance your mood and energy levels during the winter season. Explore different options available in the market to find the one that best suits your preferences and needs.

3. Exercise

Looking for another incentive to lace up those sneakers? Well, here it is: Exercise has the remarkable ability to boost your mood, enhance alertness, and contribute to overall well-being. During the winter, when the chilly weather tempts many to stay indoors, it becomes even more crucial to break out of hibernation mode and embrace physical activity. Not only does exercise flood your body with endorphins—the “happy” chemicals released during physical activity—but it also positions you ahead in achieving your fitness goals for spring and summer.

Regular physical activity in the winter acts as a powerful antidote to the seasonal blues. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a workout routine at the gym, or trying out a winter sport, the benefits extend beyond just physical health. Exercise can positively impact your mental state, providing a natural lift to your spirits and combating feelings of lethargy. It’s not just about the immediate joy of movement; it’s an investment in your long-term health and well-being. So, grab those gym shoes and take a step towards a happier and healthier winter!

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4. Stay Social

If you’ve been in hibernation mode since Christmas, it’s time to break free! A significant aspect of feeling better involves surrounding yourself with good friends or family. Make it a point to engage in some form of social activity at least once a week—the impact can be surprisingly quick. Just stepping out of your house and spending time with friends can have an uplifting effect on your mood. The cheerful presence of friends can make a substantial difference.

Feeling a bit down? Going out with trusted companions ensures that you have someone right there to talk to. Whether it’s a simple get-together, a shared meal, or participating in a group activity, socializing provides a powerful antidote to the winter blues. Human connections are known to boost mental well-being, so give it a try! You might be surprised at how a bit of social interaction can brighten your spirits and add warmth to the winter months.

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5. Keep a Healthy Diet

What and when you eat can significantly impact your mood and energy levels. Steering clear of refined and processed foods, such as white bread, rice, and sugary treats, is crucial. These foods not only lack the essential nutrients your body craves but also lead to energy slumps and mood fluctuations, contributing to issues like depression and lack of concentration. Instead, focus on incorporating more complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits.

To maintain a healthy diet, aim for at least 8 cups of water daily. Staying hydrated is vital for your overall well-being. These nourishing food choices provide your body and mind with essential nutrients, helping stabilize blood sugar levels and maintaining steady energy throughout the day. By adopting a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods, you’re not only supporting your physical health but also promoting a stable and positive mood during the winter months.

6. Make Your Bed Every Day

It might sound overly simple, but making your bed each day can have a surprisingly positive impact. The act of completing this small task leaves you with a sense of accomplishment, even if it’s just a little. A neat and tidy room contributes to a brighter day, as clutter has been shown to contribute to stress and anxiety.

Beyond the immediate satisfaction of a well-made bed, this habit can influence your day in other ways. If you’ve gone through the effort of making your bed, you’re much less likely to crawl back under the covers before bedtime. It sets a positive tone for the day and establishes a sense of order in your personal space. So, embrace this simple routine as a way to enhance your daily sense of achievement and maintain a tidier, stress-free environment.

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7. Take a Trip

When the daily routine starts to feel like a monotonous cycle, and you sense boredom or hopelessness creeping in, a change of scenery can be a powerful remedy. Break free from the winter lull by treating yourself to a winter vacation—it’s an instant mood booster! Whether it’s a warm destination for a taste of summer or a short retreat to a local cabin or a cozy hotel, the shift in environment can work wonders.

Opt for a nice hotel to indulge in a pampered experience that uplifts your mood and allows you to recharge. For an even more enjoyable escape, consider combining this blues-busting tactic with quality time spent with friends or family. Creating memorable moments in a new setting can be a transformative way to combat the winter blues.

By trying out these strategies, you’re likely to discover something that significantly improves your mood. While the winter doldrums can be challenging to escape, incorporating these simple changes into your daily routine can make a positive difference. If you find yourself still struggling or facing difficulties with everyday tasks, it’s essential to consult with your physician for personalized guidance and support.

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