Beating The Winter Blues

As we head into March we can experience some tough winter blues. Here are some tips for helping us out of those doldrums. Eating well and getting active can be some of the best things we can do. Also, March is National Nutrition Month. Let’s start with small changes that can have big results. 

According to the National Institute of Health up to 20% of us experience some level of seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as the winter blues; and that people reduce their physical activity up to 40% in the winter. Studies (and probably common sense) have shown that we consume more calories in wintertime. All of this can affect our long-term health and our emotional wellbeing.

So what can we do? Here are some tips for getting rid of those winter blues.

  1. Move! Whether you are the kind of person who is willing to layer up to experience the joy of the fresh fallen snow, or someone who would rather turn on a good TV show, start moving. Numerous studies show that physical activity can improve your mood, help you sleep better, make better food choices and much more. It doesn’t matter what you do, take a walk, have a living room dance party, or find an Active Southern West Virginia event near you.
  2. Make good food choices. Comfort food can be the definition of winter coziness. That’s ok. But let’s find some of those warm inviting foods that won’t make you want to keep that sweatshirt on in May. Soups and stews can be a great way to enjoy the season while still eating lots of mood enhancing vegetables like squash and leafy greens. Hot sugary drinks can also be a pitfall. Enjoy the coffee drink, just make it more coffee and less sugar. For some more tips on health winter food choices visit: https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/about-us/news/blogs/healthy-eating-winter.
  3. Wear bright colors. Brighten up those grey winter days with yellow, green, purple, red, or blue. If you’re a basic black, find a scarf to add a pop of color to your day. Wear that shirt you think is only for the beach. Why not! It just might make you smile.
  4. Laugh & smile. We all know laughter is the best medicine, so find a funny movie, watch a funny video (babies laughing gets me every time), read or listen to a funny book or podcast. Or find some people in your life who will freely tell stories that will cause you to laugh until your face hurts. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
  5. Spend time with positive people. We all need a little time to ourselves, but when snuggle time, turns into blah time, then we need to find some bright light and positivity. Being social can not only help your mood but have positive effects on your overall health. Seek out those who will help you laugh, share gratitude, kindness and hope. Happiness can be contagious too.

March is National Nutrition Month 

This year’s theme is Eating Right Bite by Bite – good nutrition doesn’t have to be restrictive or overwhelming. Small goals and changes can have a cumulative healthful effect, and every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step in the right direction.

  • Vary your diet – eat a variety of nutrition foods every day
  • Meal planning – enjoy healthful eating at school, work & home
  • Cook & prep – learn skills to create tasty meals to share and enjoy
  • Visit an RDN – see a registered dietitian nutritionist

For more information on the Eating Right Bite by Bite campaign click here.

Lauren Weatherford, MPA, is a health and nutrition expert that helps provide monthly advice for Active Southern West Virginia. Lauren Weatherford has been with the WVU Extension Service for 17 years. She delivers evidence and research-based information to both professional and community level audiences and has specializations in health and wellness, life management skills and relationship education. Prior to her role as a county agent, she served as an Extension Specialist with the WVU Extension Service- Family Nutrition Program. She has co-authored curricula, published numerous educational pieces, and loves working directly with participants to affect positive behavior change. She is also a more than 20-year whitewater river guide, member of national ski patrol, parent of two active teenagers and wife. “Anytime I can get outside and be active is my happy time.”

 

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