The Best Toolkit for Overcoming the Winter Blues

5 mins read
how to overcome the winter blues

Ah, the winter blues. It’s that time of year again when we trade in our sunshine for dark evenings in the run-up to winter. While there are many aspects of winter we love, one thing that’s likely not on the cards is much sunshine. With the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer, it can feel like you’re on a never-ending emotional rollercoaster.

The human body has a natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness, called the circadian rhythm. A disruption in this regular pattern can lead to an imbalance between two hormones that regulate mood: melatonin (which makes you sleepy) and serotonin (which elevates your spirits).

The winter blues are real and they’re here to stay for most of us until Spring. And while this might sound like a doom and gloom post, we’re here to tell you that there’s hope. Winter is hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. As mamas we’re constantly juggling our many hats and trying to get everything done in the day, so how do we even begin to tackle the winter blues? We’ve put together a toolkit of things that work for us.

Daily vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D is needed for healthy bodily function – from your bones and muscles to your mental health. If you live in colder climates (like we do) – it’s important to take supplements of vitamin D during winter months.

There’s a lot of research showing that vitamin D deficiency is common. A 2013 study of 20,000 people published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that more than 90% of them had insufficient levels of vitamin D.Another study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, found that taking vitamin D supplements improved mood and reduced symptoms among adults who were depressed.

You can get them in pharmacies and supermarkets and you can take them either in pill form or in a handy little minty spray. We love this one by BetterYou.

Invest in Blue Light Blocking Glasses

It’s no secret that the winter months can be brutal on our sleep: shorter days, longer nights and a transition into colder weather all make it harder to get rest. For mums who are already sleep-deprived as a result of caring for children, these factors can make it incredibly difficult to crawl out of bed in the morning.

But getting enough quality shut-eye is important—not only for your mental health but also for your physical health (and yes, we’re talking about more than just looking rested). Sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to weight gain if you aren’t sleeping well enough or if you’re not sleeping long enough at night.

Blue light-blocking glasses are one product you should consider adding to your mum’s toolkit this winter: They filter out blue light from screens on phones or computers before you go to bed at night so that when your body receives less exposure from those sources before bedtime, it helps regulate circadian rhythm—which means falling asleep faster and waking up easier. This will help ease symptoms of SAD and the winter blues.

Beat The Winter Blues with Light Therapy

Since low levels of light are linked to winter blues and SAD, increasing your exposure to natural or artificial light can help relieve symptoms. For example: perhaps you could move your desk closer to a window—or take breaks outside when the sun comes out from behind clouds!

Another treatment you might wish you try is light therapy. Light therapy is a safe, effective treatment for the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light boxes are the most common type of light therapy.

Light therapy should be used daily for 30 minutes at first and increased as necessary and you should try to get some light in the morning. Make sure you read up before you buy and get the right box, your lightbox should have at least a 10,000 lux exposure (a bright sunny day is around 50,000). We currently use this box and absolutely love it.

move your body daily to beat the winter blues

Exercising or moving your body is an absolute must. Physical activity has been shown to boost mood, decrease the symptoms of depression, and reduce stress. Physical activity can help you feel better by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals that make us feel good. Exercise also increases your energy level and improves sleep – going back to the point of regulating your circadian rhythm.

It’s the last thing most of us want to do when it’s cold and dark outside. But it’s so easy to squeeze some movement into your day. We don’t need to think of it as this huge block of time we need to set aside and do a HIIT class (unless that’s what you’re into in which case – go you!). Whether it’s a thirty-minute walk, a yoga class, or some stretching exercises, movement is crucial to feeling good. You can choose the kind of exercise that works best for you! It could literally be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk throughout the day or taking the stairs.

Daily Magnesium supplements

It’s likely that magnesium deficiency has a role to play when it comes to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of seasonal depression. Magnesium facilitates chemical conversions in the body that produce melatonin and serotonin, the two hormones that experience an imbalance in the winter and are thought to be responsible for the winter blues and on a more serious note, SAD.

A lot of people have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night. The best way to combat this is with magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant that also helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

winter blues magnesium

If you’re feeling under the weather or just need a little extra help getting some shut-eye, try taking 200 mg of magnesium at bedtime (you can also try taking it during the day if needed). You may need more than 200 mg if you have fibromyalgia or asthma though—talk to your doctor about how much is right for you. We love these vegan supplements by BetterVits which contain a unique formula Magnesium Malate, Glycinate & Citrate which all work together to deliver real benefits.

Good sleep hygiene

To make sure you’re getting enough rest, try avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime. In addition to being disruptive sleep aids, these substances can also leave you feeling groggy the next morning.

Try sticking to a regular bedtime routine that includes winding down time with several hours of reading or other relaxing activities before going to sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool—if you need extra help keeping it that way at night time (or during naptime), invest in a light-blocking shade or an eye mask to block out any unwanted light from outside or inside sources.

This sleep mask by DROWSY is a great investment. It provides total blackout, muffles sound and is made of mulberry silk which is kind to your skin and hair and provides anti-ageing benefits.

winter blues sleep

And if noise is an issue for you when trying to get some shut-eye, consider using a white noise machine if the sounds around you are keeping your brain from switching off into slumber mode. Keeping these things in mind will go a long way towards helping everyone on your team get their best rest possible!

The winter blues and SAD can be challenging to navigate, especially as a mother.

The winter blues are a real thing, and they can lead to depression if left untreated. If you find yourself feeling blue in the months ahead — or if you’ve been struggling with depression or other mental health issues all year long — it’s important to get professional help from your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible.

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