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6 Ways to Improve Mood and Energy

0 6 months ago

A packed winter social calendar, endless temptations for fattening holiday foods and mounting holiday expenses may make you want to hide under the covers until spring.

Could you be suffering from the winter blues? It’s possible, says Catherine Powers-James, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson.

“During winter months, some people experience feelings similar to depression,” Powers-James says.

And, the shorter days and darker nights of winter can amplify this sluggish mood. How? Daylight lets your body know when you should be awake and asleep. So, more sunlight makes you alert and less sunlight makes you groggy.

As a result, you may crave comfort foods, lack interest in your usual hobbies and have less energy to exercise during winter. “But giving in to unhealthy habits can negatively affect your health and cause extra stress,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson.

Cohen and Powers-James offer these strategies to help you avoid or overcome a winter slump.

1. Eat a healthy diet. Feeling blue can make you desire foods high in fat, carbohydrates and sugar. But try to resist temptation. “A carbohydrate- and sugar-rich diet will spike your blood sugar and then it will drop,” Cohen says. So, you may feel more energized initially. But in the long run, your feelings of tiredness and moodiness can intensify.

Instead, eat more plant proteins, like vegetables, nuts and beans, fruits and whole grains. You’ll get the vitamins, minerals and protein to restore your energy levels. Plus, it’ll help you maintain a healthy weight to lower your cancer risks.

2. Get regular exercise. Exercise might be the first thing to go when you’d rather stay snuggled in bed. Don’t let it. “The feel-good chemicals released during exercise can help ease anxiety and improve your mental health,” Powers-James says.

And, exercise strengthens the immune system, helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risks for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. You should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes of more vigorous physical activity each week.

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