Now that Daylight saving time is over for the year, and we are back to shorter days, many of us are bracing for the long haul of shorter, darker and colder days. Our bodies definitely notice the difference in the weather outside, and the change is more than feeling colder. Fall and winter weather typically bring seasonal blues: Reactions like a sad mood, low energy, lethargy and a craving for more sweets and consequent weight gain. Winter holiday season with its cookies, cakes and candies also adds to the mix of low energy and the feeling down.

But, all is not lost to the change in weather and loss of daylight. There is an easy way out from the shorter, darker, and colder days from consuming you. Check out the following five simple good habits that will get you through the seemingly gloomy season ahead:

Junk food and sugary snacks taste great, but make your body feel heavy and sluggish. Junk food is very temporary gratification. Soon after the first bite, the downhill in energy and mood begins. Junk food does not provide our body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at it’s best. Staying sharp, having a quick memory and being able to sustain long hours of intellectual activity requires the right diet filled with fruits, vegetables, grains and complex carbohydrates. Junk foods like chips, sugary cereals, caffeine and sugary snacks will give you a very temporary boost, and leave your body crashing in energy. After the crash, you will want and crave more of the same unhealthy snacks. Be sure not to get sucked into the vicious cycle of snacking on unhealthy junk food that leads to low energy, lethargy and a sad mood.

Drinking water consistently throughout the day also helps to maintain energy and mental focus. Water is the source of all life and health, and without enough water, your body will struggle. When you do cave into your sugar cravings, which does happen from time to time, drinking water is the best way to dilute the sugar and ease its passage out of your body.

A regular sleep schedule is key to maintaining a healthy body and strong immune system. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time every day. This way, your body clock will naturally wake you up (no need for alarms) and nudge you to bed every night. Not caving into the afternoon nap that echoes the earlier sunsets will also help to maintain your steady sleep schedule at night. Be sure to turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before going to sleep, and use your bed for sleep only, not making it into your home office or living room. As many of us are still working from home, it is important that we learn from the past pandemic mistakes where many conflated home and office spaces, failing to actually get out of bed, or change out of our pajamas and into work clothes during the day.

Exercise helps boost energy levels and your general sense of well being through the natural release of “feel good” endorphins. It’s kind of paradoxical, that expending a high amount of energy exercising will actually bring you a lot more energy in return, but it is true. Establishing a regular exercise routine during the shorter, darker and colder days is one of the smartest habits you can establish to combat the winter with high energy and a bright mood. The benefits of exercise are only really felt with consistency: Creating a habit. Daily walks, jogs, yoga, bike rides or even in desperate times, indoor home workouts can be a lifesaver from the shorter, colder and darker days ahead.

Combining the daily exercise routine with time outside in the day will more than double your return for feeling refreshed and energized. Spending time outside increases your vitamin D levels from exposure to the sun, fills your lungs with fresh air, and revitalizes your sleepy cells.

Get natural sunlight in the morning and start your day off with a boost of energy from the fresh air. Natural sunlight in the morning tells your body it is morning and time to wake up. More exposure to the outdoors is linked to lower odds of depression, less tiredness in the day and a better mood throughout the dark short days of winter.

Winter does not have to be about staying inside all the time, watching the beautiful winter colours from your living room window and enjoying the extra warmth of hot cocoa by the fireplace. Conversely, winter can be about going outside, embracing the elements and getting active. Winter sports can be just as fun as summer ones: Skiing, skating, sledding, snowball fights, walking and jogging in the winter are all great ways to stay active outside and stop resisting the elements. The cold, short days will be there whether you like it or not, it’s easier to submit and join the fun outside.

Having a supportive and positive social circle is fundamental to help you get through a challenging time like facing up against the shorter, darker and colder days up ahead. Human beings are social creatures who need connection. Colder days generally keep people indoors and away from each other. To lift our moods, we need to schedule times to interact and be in the company of positive people. Interacting with people, face to face, brings a feeling of worth through tangible connection. Holiday time in the winter is a great time to get together with friends and family, and feel the warmth that personal connection brings. Enliven the season by planning regular get togethers with family and friends that will strengthen your positive attitude and resilience. With that being said, get together with caution to not spread the flu virus or the dreaded COVID-19 virus. When you are feeling under the weather, listen to your body and stay home until you have recovered.

Habits are what build our lifestyle, both healthy and unhealthy. Healthy lifestyles are built off of awareness of how our body reacts to our daily actions and what we consume. At Synergy Health Advisors in New Jersey, we take time with our patients to diligently understand their family health history as well as their own unique journeys. Our physicians work with you to craft health habits that will fit your unique lifestyle and optimize your health. Synergy’s team of medical professionals are knowledgeable and experienced, and best of all, care about keeping patients in a state of optimal health, the way your body was meant to be. Give us a call today to book your appointment, and have a helping hand to kick start your healthy lifestyle and reclaim your birthright, reclaim your health.