The warm weather is quickly becoming a memory. Across the nation, everything pumpkin-spiced fills the shelves. Leaf-raking is the new weekend activity, and many of us are growing excited at the advent of the holiday season. But if your heart is set on beach weather and your body relies on those long days of sunlight to stay happy, the arrival of fall isn’t quite that exciting.
Of course, if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, your condition should be monitored and treated by your physician or a mental health professional. But whether you’re simply sad about the changing seasons or you suffer from clinical depression, developing a healthy lifestyle and making smart food and beverage choices will be better in the long run for you, your body, your brain, and your spirit.
We checked in with Lauren Slayton, director of Foodtrainers and author of The Little Book of Thin, for some energizing tips as the days grow darker. “Both cardio and time outside are mood boosters,” Slayton tells us. “The ‘happy’ combination is a run or bike ride outside. Even if you don’t have time for a workout, as little as 10-15 minutes spent outside — in nature — is beneficial.” Rather than just hitting the gym this fall, try occasionally taking your workout to the park; you’ll feel much better just getting a little sunshine.
Dr. Deepa Verma of Synergistiq Integrative Health offered her opinion about foods and drinks to steer clear of if you’ve got the winter blues. “Definitely avoid artificially sweetened drinks — anything with high fructose corn syrup or a high processed sugar content — as these are linked to mood changes and depression,” she warns. And while Dr. Verma is generally in favor of a glass of red wine, both for enjoyment and health benefits, she notes that caution is key. “Overconsumption of alcohol also feeds depression and can lead to addiction,” she reminds us.
So what should you be drinking? Read on to learn about some healthful — and delicious — options to get your mood going strong as the days start to dwindle.
In a study published in Public Health Nutrition, a higher consumption of green tea was found to be associated with lower incidence of depression. Sip a cup of the gunpowder variety for an aromatic mood-booster.
Offering more potassium than a banana, a glass of tomato juice may help perk you up; some early studies indicate that potassium deficiency may be linked with depression. Be sure to check the label if you’re buying premade tomato juice, though, since many store-bought varieties are overloaded with sodium. Tread extra carefully if you are at risk for hypertension.
Jess Novak writes about drinks and drinks about writing. You can follow her on Twitter @jesstothenovak
This article was originally publised on April 14, 2014.