Four Ways to Boost Your Mood This Winter

by Kalpana Murthy, LPC

The end of the year is considered to be a time of reflection, gratitude and celebration. Yet, colder weather, less daylight, and holiday events may make you or someone you know feel sad, tired or lethargic. Here are four ways to boost your mood and energy this winter.

Increase Your Exposure To Sunlight

Bright light, especially sunlight, signals your brain to make serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for helping us feel happy.

In the fall and winter, there are fewer hours of daylight and we spend less time outdoors. As a result, millions of people experience a drop in their mood and energy.

This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Research has shown that spending 30 minutes a day reading or working beside a lamp with light bulbs that replicate the level of illumination from sunlight quickly and safely boosts your mood and energy. To learn more about light therapy, visit

Balance Comfort Foods With Protein

When our serotonin drops, our bodies start craving comfort foods that quickly boost our mood and increase our energy, but only temporarily. In addition, it’s hard to resist the holiday sweets, mashed potatoes, and other foods that bring us joy and warmth.

You don’t need to deny yourself the pleasure of holiday foods. Just pay attention to how what you eat is affecting your mood. Practice moderation and minimize the emotional rollercoaster by including protein with each meal to balance the sugar, carbohydrates, and caffeine.

Fatigue, depression, anxiety and lethargy can also be symptoms of food allergies or intolerance to gluten or dairy. Many people have intolerance to these foods, but don’t realize it.

You can start by simply eliminating these foods from your diet and notice how you feel or you can get blood tests for gluten and dairy intolerance. To learn more about nutritional approaches to improve your mood, sleep and energy, consult the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross.

Have More Meaningful Conversations

Small talk at holiday parties or family gatherings is a necessary and appropriate form of communication. Yet, small talk can leave us feeling alone, disconnected, sad or anxious. Often our distress is due to a lack of genuine connection with ourselves and with others.

We have the technology to connect with someone 24/7, yet many people go for days or weeks without a single meaningful, one-on-one conversation. A meaningful conversation is when we allow someone we trust to see inside us. It’s a conversation about who we are, how we feel, and what we want in our life.

Notice the types of conversations you are having with your significant other or closest friends. Balance your online communications with face-to-face, meaningful conversations.

Be yourself and speak honestly from your heart. Doing this on a regular basis with someone who listens and responds well to what you are saying increases your sense of well-being and creates deeper relationships with yourself and others. Of course, therapy is an effective and efficient means of accomplishing this too.

Recognize When Your Past Is Becoming Present

Spending holiday time with relatives or childhood friends can make you feel like a child or adolescent all over again. Images of families in holiday movies, TV shows, and commercials can remind you of family tensions and unhappy memories from your own childhood.

Present day social situations or images can unconsciously activate a memory of an earlier time when you felt self conscious, rejected, criticized or ignored. The child’s brain often interprets these experiences as meaning, “I’m not good enough”.

We all go through childhood with experiences like this, and often look back on them as “no big deal” or “I’m over it”, but some of these memories may still be affecting us and be the root cause of our sadness, anxiety or relationship problems. If you find yourself having a diminished view of yourself, see if you can trace the feeling back to a childhood memory when you felt the same way.

Recognize that the negative belief about yourself that you made at the time of the event is not an accurate reflection of who you are today and what the adult you is capable of doing.

To learn more about how to resolve the impact of your past on your present contact me or make an appointment.