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How to combat the Winter Blues

What do you do to alleviate stress and anxiety during the winter holiday season?

Some may turn to unhealthy habits as coping mechanisms, only to then feel badly about the decisions they made, and more so how those unhealthy habits have negatively affected them physically, mentally, and spiritually. So the solution is easy, right? Just get outside and burn the energy from the stress and anxieties. Wrong! This can be a very challenging thing to do. Between colder weather and shorter days, the ability to get outside, comfortably, has some issues.  

According to The Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” This type of depression is also amplified by mixing in the stress of holiday and family obligations, whether you are close to your family, or estranged from your family.  Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Feeling listless, sad or down most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish

  • Having problems with sleeping too much

  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live

While severe cases of SAD should be managed with a health care provider, perhaps we can think of ways to combat SAD for ourselves in our everyday lives, and make the most out of the colder days.

First I recommend a warm pair of wool socks. Merino wool is my favorite for cold weather. The fibers in Merino are hollow, and therefore do not hold moisture like other fabrics. When it comes to your feet, warm and dry is the way to stay comfortable, and will increase the amount of time you can enjoy outdoor activities. If one pair is not warm enough, then double up. Your feet are the most important part of your body when dealing with cold and potentially wet weather. So keep those puppies warm and dry! 

Second, get yourself a warm wool hat. You lose the majority of your body heat through your head. Again, go with Merino wool, this will ensure a warm and dry experience.

 Lastly, layer up. If you are a person who gets cold easily, wear thermals under your clothing. If it is snowing or raining, put a waterproof shell over your sweater or fleece. I cannot stress enough the importance of staying warm and dry. This way you can keep your body moving while keeping yourself comfortable with the elements. 

For the highest level of protection explore the brands Smartwool and Patagonia. They hold to the highest standards while also giving back to environmental and educational groups. 

When you are feeling the winter blues, get warm and get outside. Even a short walk will help to alleviate your stress. Movement gets your blood flowing, and this will help to center your mind. Stay warm, stay dry, and get outside!


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