Feeling SAD?? This Can Help!

The birds are singing, the days are longer and spring really is coming, but still, if you suffer from seasonal blues at all, this time of year is the hardest! All of those grey, short days have taken their toll.

The good news is that there are some things that you can do to help yourself get through the last gasp of winter, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today.

You are not alone if you struggle with this! My husband, who is an EMT and firefighter, said that they get far more crisis and suicide calls this time of year than any other.

It’s not that severe in my family, but I have less energy and have to work harder to find the motivation to work out and eat right this time of year. My boys fight more and it’s easy to feel exhausted at the end of the day.

Here’s what helps our family…

Eat foods that support your mental health.  Eating a diet rich in plants, and especially those that are good sources of Omega-3s, certain minerals, and anti-oxidants, can really bolster your mood. My top picks:

  • Raw cacao or dark chocolate – very rich in anti-oxidants and a proven mood booster. How cool that this is on the list, right? See below for the smoothie recipe that I drink almost every day this time of year. You can also simply eat a square or two of dark (70% cocoa content) chocolate each day, but watch the overall sugar content.
  • Spinach – getting more greens in is a good idea no matter what. But spinach is high in iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Overall, there are a fair number of studies that suggest it can be helpful in alleviating both depression and fatigue. Best of all, it is easy to incorporate into just about anything, from eggs to casseroles to soups to smoothies. Yes, I even put it into my daily chocolate smoothie… see below for the recipe!
  • Chia or flax seeds – again, both are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your body combat depression by naturally boosting serotonin levels. Add them to smoothies, oatmeal, salads, yogurt, etc. Chia seeds will thicken smoothies, etc, but otherwise I find both of these to be pretty undetectable.
  • Blueberries – very high in anti-oxidants and a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth cravings that I tend to get this time of year. 

Take time to support your mental health. My go-to strategy this time of year is daily meditation in the morning (just 10 minutes!) and daily gratitude journaling at the end of the day. Both of these activities help set me up for success, keep my mind clear, and remind me of all of the good things to celebrate in life so I don’t get stuck in Debbie Downer mode.

I struggled with the idea of meditation until someone recommended the app Insight Timer. It’s free and it’s jam-packed with daily, guided meditations of all different lengths. My favorite so far are from Tara Brach. Check it out here: https://insighttimer.com/

Get moving, even if you have no energy. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Whether it is a walk around the block or a 5 minute workout, get your blood going each and every day and it will do wonders for your mood.

Click here to check out 14 free 5-minute workouts that Dustin recorded and use them when you think you have no time to move!

While abs may be made in the kitchen, exercise is absolutely your biggest lever to get a better mood and more energy. Use it to give you the momentum to tackle other goals.

I hope these strategies help!

I’d love to hear how you deal with this in the comments below. Let’s all support each other through the last gasp of winter!

Superfood, Bust-your-blues Smoothie Recipe

1 cup raw spinach
1 cup water or coconut water (may also use coconut or almond milk)
1/2 – 1 banana (frozen, ideally)
1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 scoop hydrolyzed collagen (protein powder)
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon almond butter
cinnamon to taste
1-2 drops stevia if you need it sweeter

Add ice if desired and blend until smooth. I recommend blending the spinach and water first, then adding the remaining ingredients and blending again.