by Jessica Smith, REDBOOK
It's February. The fun of the holidays has worn off, that winter wonderland is no longer charming, and the cold? Well, its just getting old. Beat those winter blues with these 7 easy tricks.
1. Eat some sunshine. "One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is eating dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens. The chlorophyll of the green leaves is the literal energy of the sun, in edible form. Eat your sunshine and feel better," recommends nutrition and wellness coach Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC, RYT. If a salad doesn't sound that appealing in this weather, why not turn your greens into comfort food with one of Pfennighaus' yummy recipes for Kale Chips or Greens Gratin.
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2. Cheer up with some 'C'. Dig into some pineapples! With more than 130% percent RDV of vitamin C, they can help boost moods, especially during the winter when many people feel depressed or anxious due to a lack of exposure to natural sunlight, says Jennifer Grossman, Vice President of the Dole Nutrition Institute. Not a fan of pineapple? Kiwi, mango, broccoli and red and yellow peppers are all excellent food sources of vitamin C.
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3. Make your own 'light treatment'. Buying a light box may not be at the top of your shopping list, so why not try a new (free) twist on light therapy, video therapy? "Create your own light treatment by making a personal video using photos of brightly colored birds, flowers and scenes from nature and add meditation music to the background", recommends color energy healer Elizabeth Harper. Harper recommends viewing it every morning and evening to help ward off the blues, or watch it anytime you need to boost your mood.
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4. Practice mindfulness. "Mindfulness helps ward off winter blues by making you feel connected to what personally matters most to you, and keeping you grounded in what you're grateful for in your life (which makes you more optimistic and less likely to be blue)," says clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior. "It also helps you experience the simple sensory pleasures of the moment - the smell of your hot coffee, the feel of your blanket, the sound of your friend's laugh - all of which can bring small oases of joy that can help chip away at a depressed mood. The more distracted we allow ourselves to get, the more anxious and detached we get from the simpler experiences that bring us pleasure."
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5. Get thee outside. Yes, it's cold out. But if you can get outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day you'll be less likely to feel depressed, recommends Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. And if you just can't bear the cold, try opening your blinds or even putting mirrors in a room to increase the amount of sunlight it gets, suggests Lombardo.
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6. Dose up on D. Numerous studies have linked inadequate Vitamin D dosage to everything from fighting off illness and depression to weight loss. If your sun exposure is less than adequate, you may need to take a supplement. "Your average dose should be 400 IU per day, but a blood test can tell you if this is enough," says Dr. Michael Wald of Integrated Medicine & Nutrition.
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7. Sleep better, but not more. Does the cold have you wanting to hibernate till spring? Resist the urge to sleep more, says Andrew Voskov, President of Ayurvedic Roast, and get up by 7 a.m. to boost your mood and your metabolism. "In Ayurveda, and modern science, both claim there are bio rhythms at play 24 hours a day, and when the body is left sleeping late, that messes with brain waves and metabolism and causes feelings of depression", says Voskov. And when it's time to sleep, make the most of it with melatonin. "Melatonin has been demonstrated in a number of scientific studies to improve mood, boost spirits and increase sleep quality (and reduce the rest of breast and other cancers)," says Dr. Michael Wald. Wald recommends taking 1 to 3 mg right before bed for best results.
And if all else fails, take comfort in the fact that the groundhog saw his shadow this year, so spring should be just around the corner!
Jessica Smith is a certified fitness lifestyle expert and creator of the 10 Pounds Down DVD series.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.