Top Picks for Overcoming the Winter Blues

Top Picks for Overcoming the Winter Blues

When the dust settles after the holidays, many of us are left with the aftereffects of feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Add in cold weather, grey skies, and a pandemic that just won’t quit, and you’ve got a recipe for the winter blues. 

Of course, there is a difference between the fleeting winter blues and true seasonal depression—also known as seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). If you believe that the season has negatively affected your daily quality of life and you have a hard time doing things you used to love, please reach out to your health care provider for proper support and evaluation.

Your mental health is critical, especially in these unprecedented times.

For some, the winter blues start to kick in during the holidays, maybe even without realizing it. The winter blues are feelings of sadness that typically start in December (or earlier) and last throughout February (or later). 

Because the holiday season is typically a high-stress period, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of anxiety, sadness, overwhelm, and even depression long after the celebrations have ended. Thankfully, you can use some simple mindset shifts and supportive natural remedies to help ease these feelings as they arise and perhaps even lessen the chance of feeling them in the first place. 

When it comes to overcoming the blues in the winter months, it’s vital first to acknowledge that you might feel a little different than usual—and that it’s perfectly normal. Noticing and honoring your emotions is essential to working through moments that might feel trickier or not as anticipated.

Once you’ve acknowledged those feelings, it’s time to release any regrets or resentments you may hold from the holidays and the people involved in them. It can be tempting to try to do it all after the New Year, especially if we’ve set elaborate resolutions for ourselves. The truth is, these activities can quickly become overwhelming and put too much on your plate, making a time of renewal feel more like a time of failure.

Also, if you’ve recently lost a loved one or were not with family over the holidays, consider reaching out to local friends or community members to connect during this time. Connection is such a powerful remedy to feelings of loneliness that can happen during the cold winter months.

Now that you have a greater understanding of the winter blues and the subtle—but effective—mindset shifts you can use to overcome them, let’s take a look at some of the best products to help you feel more joyful and present during this time.

Helpful hint: just about everything you’ll find on this list would make an excellent post-holiday pick-me-up for a loved one, too.

Because smell is our most robust sense, aromatherapy can be a powerful tool to help support our mood. When it comes to the winter blues, essential oils can boost your spirits, provide more energy, and even invite a sense of peace during a stressful time. 

This four-piece kit from Aura Cacia contains four citrus essential oils: lime, lemon, grapefruit, and orange. 

If you’re looking for essential oils that can help decrease anxious feelings and overwhelm, consider trying the classic lavender or a unique blend for easing mental tension, such as Peace & Harmony, which contains essential oils such as lavender, orange, patchouli, and more.

Many people find that, especially during the winter season, using an essential oil diffuser is a fabulous way to fill the home with soothing smells. Diffusers are also a great way to eliminate burning the toxic chemicals commonly found in commercial scented candles.

Sleep is one of our most powerful defenses against mounting feelings of stress and overwhelm, so prioritizing quality sleep is vital during the winter season. Consider using the calming essential oils listed above and a satin sleep set that includes a pillowcase, eye mask, and hair scrunchie.

Not only will this sleep set—particularly the eye mask—help encourage healthy sleep hygiene, but sometimes simple self-care items like this trio can help create a more consistent evening routine and encourage better sleep.

For many of us, the winter season falls in the darkest, coldest months of the year. Consequently, our vitamin D levels can take a hit and affect more than just our energy levels. In fact, one study showed that low levels of vitamin D can correlate to “major depression...mood disorders, and cognitive impairment in older adults.”

While not the most glamorous product, it certainly is effective. So, consider stocking up on a liquid vitamin D supplement this season to potentially help offset some of the mental anguish you may experience during this time.

You learned a bit about the power of aromatherapy above, and thankfully, there are other ways to reap the benefits other than liquid essential oils.

For just over $10, this organic aromatherapy travel stick kit is an excellent option for beating the blues this winter, especially if you’re traveling. The sticks are made with pure essential oils and a combination of olive fruit oil and beeswax.

Inside, you’ll find that this kit contains five different aromatherapy blends, such as Stress Soother, Cheerful Mind, and Headache Soother. Don’t they sound perfectly supportive for relieving some stress? You can throw them into your purse, stash them in your carry-on bag, or keep them in your car for when you need a moment to de-escalate.

Herbs can be powerful tools to help overcome feelings of stress and overwhelm, and some, in particular, are especially great for supporting your mood throughout the winter season. 

Curious just how powerful herbs can be? If you didn’t already know, many FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs are made from plant products. Also, many essential oils—such as basil, rosemary, eucalyptus, and chamomile—can also come from herbs. 

One of the most popular mood-supporting herbs is ashwagandha. This herb has been clinically studied and may help your body manage stress and boost energy levels, all while nourishing your adrenal glands. 

Another powerful but less-known herb is Rhodiola. According to Thorne Research, this well-studied herb is “a brain adaptogen that helps balance the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine without causing drowsiness or fatigue.” 

Lastly, there are unique herbal supplement blends (like this one) designed to specifically support stress and mood function. It contains ingredients like L-theanine and lemon balm, which may support a healthy stress response.

Any of the above herbs would be great to start before the rush of the holiday season next year to help your body heal in its current state and better prepare itself for the stress ahead, but they can be excellent support any time of year. Also, it might take a few tries to find the herbs that your body responds to best. We’re all different, after all! 

An important note: Please consult your doctor before adding any new herbs or supplements to your diet.

If you are worried about experiencing the winter blues or are already finding yourself stressed about what’s to come, keep in mind that, as the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

As with many scenarios involving our health and wellness, it’s often better to be proactive than reactive and have solid systems and foundations in place before the holiday season gets too intense or out of control. And, even better, perhaps it never will.

Take a few moments to consider the mindset tips shared above and think about which products would best support you and your current lifestyle. Ultimately, you know yourself better than anyone, and it’s essential to trust yourself, all while supporting yourself, during this season.

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