Title: 8 Tips to Beat the January Blues
The “January Blues” is a real thing.
But, if you want to get a leg up on it this year before it kicks in full force, try these 8 steps.
(please note that I’m not a doctor. If you have diagnosed depression, seek advice from a medical professional)
Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been making a lot of headlines this year because of it helping your immune system. Vitamin D is also a mood booster along with many other things.
Why so much press? Most people are deficient in vitamin D, so raising your vitamin D levels from low to normal helps improve mood, energy, sleep, cardiovascular health, burn fat, build muscle and a whole lot more.
Take 2000-5000 IU per day.
There are two ways that omega-3 fatty acids might help your mood. The first is by reducing inflammation (yes, you can get inflammation in your brain), and the other way is by allowing neurotransmitters to move easier (not going to get into the details of that).
About 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day have been shown to help improve mood. You can get that in about 4-8 oz of wild caught salmon, but a more realistic way to get enough each day is taking fish oil capsules. Read the label to see how many you need to take to get 2 grams of omega-3s.
Eat Lean Red Meat 3-4 Times Per Week
An Australian study found that women who limited or avoided red meat are twice as likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder. Now, the guess researchers had was that the women avoiding red meat weren’t getting enough omega-3s (most red meat in Australia is grass-fed/grass-finished), but there are a lot of vitamins and minerals in beef that are low in chicken and fish which could also play a part.
Interesting note, too much red meat seems to play a part in poor mental health as well, though that was only noted and no further details explained.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Fans of intermittent fasting aren’t going to like this. Japanese researches followed people for 3 years and found that skipping breakfast increased risk for developing depressive symptoms.
Eating breakfast helps to lower cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is naturally higher in the morning, but eating is a known way to help reduce it, which might mean you feel calmer later in the day.
Eating breakfast may help set your circadian rhythm, meaning you get better sleep.
Like Vitamin D, most people are deficient in magnesium. With a 100% whole food diet, it’s still really hard to get adequate magnesium in your diet.
A study on people with moderate depression found that taking magnesium helps improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Magnesium has a calming effect on the body, so if you decide to take it, do so at night because it might improve your sleep.
Prevent Low Testosterone
Low T in both men and women has been linked to poor mood, weight gain, muscle loss, and low energy.
To raise levels up:
Exercise, eat a good diet, get enough sleep, manage stress, have adequate vitamin D levels, have healthy body fat levels. Basically, the stuff that is on most New Year’s Resolutions.
Ever have negative thoughts?
A study found that when you start that negative thought spiral, using the word “clear” helped to get rid of negative thoughts. The word “suppress” also help with certain negative thoughts.
Limit Alcohol (and Caffeine)
Alcohol likes to get us into spirals that take a lot of effort to break. Alcohol seems to worsen depression, and depression worsens alcohol abuse.
Alcohol reduces the quality of sleep we get and it leeches out vitamins and minerals every time you go to the bathroom. Caffeine also leeches out vitamins and minerals, increases cortisol, plus caffeine has been shown to blunt the absorption of vitamin D.
The caffeine-alcohol spiral looks like this: get poor sleep, drink extra caffeine in the morning and afternoon (spikes cortisol, leech nutrients), drink alcohol to wind down at the end of the day, get poor sleep (spike cortisol), drink more caffeine…
These 8 tips are pretty easy to implement. You can buy vitamin D, magnesium, and fish oil from Amazon right now, eat fish and red meat a few times per week, eat breakfast, and limit your alcohol consumption.
Using these 8 tips will help keep your mood and motivation high both in and outside of the gym from January until April or May when the weather improves here in PA.
P.S. These tips are for fighting the January Blues and are not to be used in place of medical advice. If you experience depressive thoughts, please seek professional help.