Between post-holiday blues, and wintertime blahs, it’s common to experience a lack of energy and vitality this time of year. But according to Susan Lark, MD, best-selling author of Hormone Revolution (Portola Press, $28.95) and expert on integrative medicine, there are simple remedies that can quickly turn moods around.
“I’ve been teaching stress- and mood-management tips to patients for years,” says Dr. Lark. “People often forget that feeling positive and energetic is our normal, natural state.” She adds that good moods are the result of taking certain proactive steps with your health.
Here are eight of Dr. Lark’s time-tested tips for gaining positive mental energy and diffusing stress during the winter months.
Eat “good mood” foods. Spinach, sweet potatoes, turkey, carrots, broccoli, citrus fruits, eggs, salmon, and almonds are loaded with the vitamins and minerals that have been shown to help the body produce mood-boosting neurochemicals.
Self-administer acupressure. Locate the points one finger-width below and one finger-width to both the right and left of the base of your skull. Press for 1-3 minutes. Locate the point four finger-widths below your left kneecap, and one finger-width to the outside of your shin. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Chase away blues with blue light. Fifteen minutes of exposure to blue light therapy has been shown to elevate moods by increasing serotonin levels. Safe and inexpensive self-care light devices are available online.
Walk in the sun. Even in the winter, exposure to direct sunlight will readjust your brain chemicals and instantly change your mood. It works almost immediately.
Increase your aerobic exercise. A few minutes a day of walking boosts DHEA levels, which helps to moderate mood.
Sign up for a movement class. Yoga, t’ai chi, Feldenkrais, Pilates, and strength training have all been shown to be excellent ways to counteract low-level depression.
Spread around some love. Scientists have confirmed that love heals. Hug a child, take an old person out to lunch, call up an old friend, snuggle with your partner. Every time you give love, love will bounce back to you. You’ll feel better instantly.
Go have some fun. Simple as it sounds, laughing and doing fun activities is an easy way to chase away the blues. What’s fun for you? Going to a comedy club? Dancing? Playing board games with your kids? Do it!
Dr. Lark is one of the leading authorities on integrative medicine and women’s health, and has penned thirteen books on health and healing. She served on the clinical faculty of Stanford University Medical School, and taught in Stanford’s Primary Care Associate Program in the Division of Family and Community Medicine. Her newest book, cowritten with Kimberly Day, is Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution (Portola Press, www.drlark.com).