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Power Swaps: The simplest ways to beat winter blues


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Healthy changes often come as a result of major dedication and discipline—like pre-dawn workouts and ordering kale salad instead of moules frites and red wine (darn you, Olivia Pope). But small, yet powerful changes can boost your wellness as much as big sacrifices can. In this new Well+Good series, we share some seriously smart yet simple swaps. Introducing Power Swaps.

It’s easy enough to feel happy and healthy when the sun is shining and the weather is a constant 80 degrees. But try staying upbeat when there’s an inch of sludge on the sidewalks, it gets dark at 4:00 p.m., and you can’t remember a time when you went outside sans 10 layers of down and wool.

Come winter, many of us grapple with seasonal affective disorder (i.e. SAD)—a type of depression that tends to make its appearance in the cold months, sapping energy and mood. (While simultaneously making cookies our favorite food group.)

Of course, if it’s a deep and serious funk—get yourself to a trained professional who can help with various treatments, says Jada Turco, MD, a New York-based integrative, holistic psychiatrist. But for many instances of SAD, there are a lot of simple tweaks that can totally help.

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(Photo: Jada Turco, MD)

1. First thing’s first: To fight the season’s depressing side, swap holing up inside your apartment, with getting outside, Dr. Turco urges. “Bundle up,” she says. “But even when it’s cold, you need vitamin D and you need fresh air.”

You don’t have to go for a run. Do your errands on foot or walk over to a friend’s on foot and get her to join you. (She could probably use a blast of vitamin D, too.)

2. Instead of putting in solo time on the elliptical, Dr. Turco suggests you head to a yoga class or a workout where you can be among other people and great music (a kind of natural anti-depressant for us, in any case). This goes for even mixing up your silent meditation routine for a guided one or more of an upbeat practice with music. Or frankly, making a playlist with some happy, peppy ’80s music or disco. Whatever does it for you.

3. Consider spending your Friday nights sans Netflix on the couch. Dr. Turco recommends getting out and doing something social with friends. Better still if alcohol is not involved. Though Dr. Turco understands ’tis the season for parties, “Be aware that overindulging can exacerbate with a depressed mood,” she says.

4. Try a volunteer night with pals, she says, which can help get you out of your head. And giving your time and your energy to a great cause or to others contributes to everyone’s well-being.

For more information, visit www.integrativepsychiatrynyc.com 

(Photo: Inspiring Wallpapers by Paul Mood)