You could become excited about the impending cozy season as the air turns chilly and the leaves begin to show off vivid shades of orange and yellow—we’re talking countless soup dishes, warm mugs of tea, and burrowing beneath a fluffy blanket for the foreseeable future.
However, for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly known as seasonal depression, the shorter, colder, and darker days can wreak havoc on their mental health and well-being.
This is because SAD is a sort of depression that appears around the same time each year, usually when there is less sunlight.
This can cause a reduction in serotonin, a chemical that governs mood and alter the body’s regular sleep-wake cycle.
Low energy, difficulty concentrating, irritability, changes in eating and sleep patterns, and emotions of hopelessness or sadness are among the symptoms of the winter blues.
However, the good news is that there are several seasonal tips, if applied in your daily routine, can potentially lift your spirits—even when it’s dark outside.
5 Mood-Boosting Morning Routine Tips
You might want to explore making minor changes to your schedule now before the darker days begin to affect you.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the time of day when you can (usually) count on getting those desired beams of sunlight—morning.
Starting your day with mood-boosting, mental-health-protecting routines may help you feel better as winter approaches.
- Get up at the same time each day (including weekends)
A change in sleep quality and quantity—either sleeping more or sleeping less—is a common symptom of SAD.
Consistently stick to a set bedtime and wake time.
This can provide your mind and body with a pattern they can rely on, thereby protecting them from SAD-related alterations involving the sleep-wake cycle.
This can also assist to reduce oversleeping and napping, which can degrade the quality of your night’s sleep.
- Use natural or simulated natural light to wake up.
Because a shortage of light throughout the winter months might lead to SAD, it’s critical to get as much of it as possible.
Bright sunshine from an open window or a sunlight-simulating-lamp will help you wake up in the morning.
The lamp simulates natural light and has been shown to change brain chemicals associated with mood (more on best practices later).
Don’t worry, this does not require you to rise with the sun; only ensure that you get some much-needed light within an hour of waking up.
This can include leaving your curtains open in the morning or replacing black-out curtains with sheer shades.
- Get involved in a way that suits you.
Getting active, in addition to waking up with sunlight, is an important approach to combat SAD.
Exercise is good for your body and brain because it releases feel-good hormones like dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin which can improve your mood.
Whether you want to go for an early run or stick to your midday walk, consistency is essential.
As the days grow shorter and your motivation to exercise wanes, it will be easier to get up and move if the activity is already part of your routine.
To counteract the slump caused by early sunsets, you can also enroll in a fitness class or organize evening workouts with a friend. The best part about incorporating activity into your daily routine to combat SAD.
- Eat a nutrient-dense breakfast as often as possible.
Eating balanced meals rich in protein, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates is an essential practise for general health.
As a result, filling up with nutrient-dense foods at your first meal of the day can help control your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
That way, when SAD symptoms strike, you won’t be dealing with low blood sugar levels or full-on hunger fury, which will utterly derail your mood.
Again, having a pattern in place is really beneficial when the going gets tough, so it’s critical to have a few go-to balanced breakfasts on hand for when the SAD season is in full stride.
11 changes you can adapt to boost your mood in winter!
- Mindfulness: Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath and clearing your mind. This can aid in stress reduction and mood enhancement.
- Set your intentions for the day: Before you begin your day, think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel. This can help you maintain focus and motivation throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated will help you feel better and have more energy.
- Practice gratitude: Take a few moments to think about what you’re grateful for. This can help you boost your mood and outlook.
- Make time for self-care: Schedule time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. This could range from reading a book to relaxing in a warm bath.
- Connect with others: Seek social support from a friend or family member.
- Find a hobby: Getting involved in a pleasant and engaging activity can lift your spirits and give you a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering can lift your spirits and give you a sense of purpose.
- Get outside: Spend time in nature to boost your attitude and vitality.
- Use light therapy: Using a light box or spending time outside in the sun can help balance your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Reduce your screen time: Reducing your screen time can assist improve your sleep and mood.
- Seek expert help: If you’re suffering from the winter blues, talk to a mental health specialist.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help you reduce stress and enhance your mood.
You may increase your mood and energy levels during the winter months by adopting these mood-boosting activities into your morning routine.
It’s important to remember that feeling depressed or having “the winter blues” is a normal and regular occurrence, particularly during the colder months when there is less sunlight, and we may spend more time indoors.
If you’re feeling down, reach out to friends and family for support, practice self-care, and consider obtaining professional treatment if necessary.
Remember to be gentle with yourself and seek out hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
It’s also critical to look after your physical health by getting enough sleep, eating healthily, and staying active.
You may boost your attitude and find solutions to cope with the winter blues with time and effort.