Beating the winter blues

Exercising can help keep your spirits up during the cold winter months. (credit: File Photo) Exercising can help keep your spirits up during the cold winter months. (credit: File Photo)

Is your 8 a.m. class in Wean Hall consistently ruining your mood? Perhaps the seasonal lack of sunlight is casting a cloud of dreariness over your day. Between the new semester, the cold weather, and the short days, January may feel like a fairly dismal month thus far. However, there are some methods to boost your mood during the winter season.

Wake Up on Time

As tempting as it may be to hit the snooze button on your alarm just a few more times, that extra hour of sleep may be contributing to your winter blues. Oversleeping has been linked to depression, and, according to WebMD, can make your depression worse, since regular sleep patterns are important to the recovery process. So instead of sleeping in until 4 p.m. next weekend, try setting your alarm for 11 a.m. and spending more time awake. You might be surprised by how much better you feel, and how much more you might get accomplished that day.

Go to the Gym

Exercise releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that cause you to feel euphoric. If the idea of working out seems daunting, try to make it a social event: Find a friend who would be willing to go jog on the treadmills in the University Center with you once a week. Not only will you get to socialize, but you’ll also get off the treadmill feeling ready to take on the world.

Turn on the Lights

One of the main reasons people feel depressed during the winter is the lack of sunlight. According to MayoClinic.com, the decrease of sunlight during the winter may cause your serotonin levels to drop, directly affecting your mood. Although artificial light isn’t a perfect substitute for natural sunlight, staying in bright environments will help minimize depressive symptoms. So, next time you’re playing Call of Duty or writing a paper, don’t do it in the dark.

Eat More Tuna

Drinking hot chocolate and eating comfort food for dinner may sound appealing, but be careful: Your comforting diet may in fact be the reason you’re feeling so down. According to economii.com, sugary treats and foods with simple carbohydrates, such as bread, may lift your mood temporarily, but will eventually cause your blood sugar to crash, leaving you feeling even more cranky than before. Furthermore, a diet consisting of nothing but carbohydrates can leave you highly susceptible to colds and the flu. Instead, try eating more vegetables and foods high in protein, such as turkey, chicken, or tuna. Not only will they give you more energy, but proteins are also high in tryptophan, which induces hormones that make you feel happier.

Having a consistent sleep schedule, exercising, and eating well should help bust your wintertime blues, or at the very least tide you over until spring break. However, if you find that the wintertime regularly causes you to feel overly anxious or depressed, you might have a medical condition known as seasonal affective disorder. If you think this is the case, Carnegie Mellon’s Counseling and Psychological Services has plenty of resources to help you feel your best throughout the colder months in Pittsburgh.