Mood Lifters

How to balance out the winter blues

March 3, 2016

This post might be a bit outdated considering we’re cruising into warmer seasons, but today I want to talk about the winter blues. Colder seasons can be tough — especially if you’re in Oklahoma where one day you’re dressed in full winter wear, and the next you’re donning Spring attire. The darker, shorter days, mixed with the less-comfortable temperatures and conditions can make it hard to get up and at ‘em, which can eventually take its toll on one’s health and headspace.

A lot of people tend to rumble with Old Man Winter, experiencing lower energy, the need for more sleep (or the desire to do little more than snooze), and less of an interest in doing activities that they typically find fun and enjoyable. Most of us are affected by the change in seasons, so this phenomenon is fairly normal, if not inconvenient and a bit of a drag. However, if left unchecked, symptoms can begin to have a stronger impact on your day-to-day life and state of health.

It’s also common for people to sweep their lower moods under the rug for one reason or another. Maybe they’re too sluggish, apathetic or disheartened, or they might even be ashamed to talk about it. So, the condition can last, unaddressed and untreated, for longer than necessary.

I don’t want to bore you with too many facts, so I’ll leave you with this tidbit of information: Our mood is linked to the health of our neurotransmitters — chemicals in the brain that regulate our behavior — and the health of our neurotransmitters is heavily influenced by what we eat. Each neurotransmitter has a specific job to do, which ranges from providing a calming affect to our bodies to increasing our alertness. They’re much better at their jobs of keeping us happy, calm, collected, and focused if we provide them with the food-fuel they need.

Our mood is linked to the health of chemicals in the brain that regulate our behavior — those chemicals are heavily influenced by what we eat.

So! Without further ado, here are a few foods and activities to bring in if you struggle with lower moods and energy, seasonally related or otherwise:

1) Eat complex carbohydrates like dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to increase serotonin which eases tension and stressful thinking (both of which can creep up when the temperatures creep downward). These foods also decrease an enzyme in the brain that can mess with neurotransmitter communication and function. Foods like quinoa, kale, apples, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes are some of our favorite foods to mention here.

2) Bring in foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax, hemp and chia seeds, walnuts, and moderate amounts of clean, cold-water fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are non-negotiable nutrients for your noggin’. They’re also great at protecting against inflammation, and while you might be sick of hearing me say that word, it’s not one to take lightly — so eat up, dear reader. We love to bake with flax seeds, and stir chia seeds into our occasional bowl of oats.

3) Incorporate other mood-boosting practices, like daily exercise, time with good friends, and daily doses of fresh air. I’ve elaborated on this topic over on my personal blog, so check them out if you need more ideas on how to stay upbeat and energized when it’s harder than usual to do so.

We hope you find some of these ideas helpful! What are some ways you keep your mood light and happy?

1 comment

  • This is a great article. Fruits and vegetables can improve mental health in addition to exercise.

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