Beating the Winter Blues
by Alison Neumann

Beating the Winter Blues

Winter Blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, affects many people this time of year and is fairly common, especially in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Our winter weather can last for days-on-end with very limited sunlight and LOTS of snow that can make us feel trapped inside our homes.  That being said, there are numerous things you can do to fight those feelings during the winter months when the days are short and the air outside is frigid.  Here are some ideas:

  • Do something you love! Whether it’s watching a funny movie, throwing a party, jamming out to a favorite song, volunteering by helping others, or spending time with friends. The feelings of enjoyment and happiness from doing so will give you cause to celebrate life.
  • Try to stick to the same sleep schedule each night of the week, with at least seven hours of sleep. Accomplishing this is key for body regularity, and a health tracker like a Fitbit or Apple Watch sleep app can help you keep track of how much and how well you sleep.
  • Treat yourself to healthy food choices. Foods like dark chocolate, herbal teas, and berries are known to brighten moods and yield health benefits.  Eating a good mix of fresh veggies and fruit and staying away from processed food as much as possible is the best way to go.  Plan ahead and look forward to those delicious meals, because doing so can keep you in a good mood all day long.
  • Bright light therapy, or phototherapy can help you get the extra sunlight benefits you miss from gloomy winter days and time spent indoors. Light therapy has many health benefits, which can be done with an artificial light box or through a window when the sun is shining.  Ever notice how people are generally happier when it’s sunny out?  That is the power of light working!
  • Enjoy the outdoors when possible. There are endless opportunities to have fun in the snow and cold, even though it may take extra effort to do them (like dressing appropriately for the weather and taking warm-up breaks inside when needed).  Activities such as biking in the snow with fat-tire bikes, cross country or downhill skiing and snowboarding, hiking and snowshoeing, ice climbing, sledding, ice fishing, hockey and ice skating, and even going for walks during daylight hours are some of the many activities we hearty Yoopers enjoy.  Exercise, especially fun exercise, is known to boost moods.

One of VAST’s Core Values is Healthy, and we do many things here in the winter to help our team stay on track.  We offer prizes for our 12 Week Annual Challenge that involves at least 180 minutes of weekly exercise. We provide healthy snack options for the team at our office, and we schedule after-work fun. Activities, like cooking classes and volunteering opportunities, help us stay healthy and active and beat those darn Winter Blues!


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