Living in South Dakota means walking around in shorts and sandals on a Monday and by Wednesday you are risking your life to drive to work due to the first blizzard of the season. You know, when you wake up in the morning and it’s pitch dark out, and then the end of the workday rolls around meaning you venture back out into the darkness just to do it all over again the next day. I find myself to be a person who enjoys the sunshine and being outside, so I often find myself struggling to keep my mood up during the winter months.
While we can’t control the weather, we can control how we cope with the change in temperatures by boosting our daily D.O.S.E. of happiness chemicals. Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins are the four major chemicals in the brain that can help us fight against “seasonal blues”. They are responsible for increasing our happiness and pleasure.
Increasing dopamine is a must for ourselves and our families. Dopamine is responsible for enabling learning, pleasure, and helping us reach our goals. Increase levels of dopamine by moving your body, expressing gratitude, meditating, or creating to do lists. With New Years around the corner, setting attainable goals can also help with this. Vitamins like B6, Magnesium, D, and Omega-3 have been shown to also help. While you might not be grateful for the freezing temperatures you are about to endure this winter season, you can try focusing on the positives of winter season, like spending time with loved ones during the holidays.
Oxytocin is referred to as the “love hormone” that motivates you to trust others, bond with others, and build relationships. So, yes, you can increase your levels of oxytocin by giving hugs or cuddling with a loved one. Other ideas might look like scheduling a massage, listening to music, or taking a cold shower.
Low levels of serotonin could be a reason why your mood stability is equivalent to the temperatures we are having throughout the weeks. Try taking a warm bath with some aromatherapy and calming music. Journaling, going to therapy, deep breathing or saying affirmations can also help increase serotonin levels and help your mood feel more stabilized.
Lastly, our endorphins help endure the pain this winter season may bring upon us. If the cold weather causes you to experiencing aches, pains, anxiety, or depression, increasing your endorphins can help with this. Endorphins help relieve our physical (and emotional) pain naturally. As we bundle up in five layers of clothes, snow suits, and boots to beat potential frostbite, you can also beat the emotional pain by eating dark chocolate or binging the comedy section on Netflix. Other ways to increase your endorphins might look like exercising, filling your home with citrus smells, and performing acts of kindness towards others.
So remember to take care of yourselves by increasing your feel good chemicals this winter season!