Kickstart the new year and beat the ‘January Blues’

As the holidays have ended and the spring semester has started, it is easy to fall victim to the “January Blues” as the month is notorious for being the most depressing month of the year.

As stated on Mental Health America’s website, around 5 percent of Americans suffer from winter blues and four out of the  five people who experience seasonal depression are women.

Most people tend to brush off the winter blues as normal. However, feeling sad, moody or irritable for more than two weeks at a time could mean something needs to change.

One possible reason for feeling gloomy is all the unhealthy foods that are high in sugar eaten over the holiday season. One way to combat this is to live an active lifestyle and eat foods that will make you feel good physically and mentally.

Blueberries, avocados, apples, quinoa, edamame, salmon and broccoli are just a few “superfoods” that cleanse and nourish your body while helping you to lose weight.

Each food offers a variety of health benefits such as vitamin D, antioxidants or omega-3s. Omega-3s, which can be found in fish, walnuts, spinach and kale, improve levels of serotonin in your body, which helps to relieve sad or depressed moods.

“I have started making green smoothies every morning that have kale, spinach and chard in them,” said Stephanie Carlos, junior mathematics major. “These energize me and make me full without feeling bloated. Plus, after I drink it, I feel like I have to make good eating decisions throughout the
rest of the day.”

Another way to start your morning off in high spirits is to stretch your muscles when you wake up. Focus on stretching your legs, back and neck to increase blood flow to your muscles and relieve stiffness. This will set a calming precedent for the rest of the day.

Stretching is also a good warm-up to more physical activities such as running, weight-lifting or group classes at the Recreation Center.

“I really want to lose weight this semester so I’ve started going to the Rec as much as I can and really watching what I eat,” said Hayley Reinarz, sophomore biology major. “Even just after a few days, I woke up more refreshed and had
more energy.”

Getting back into routine of school or work five days a week can also put mental states in a slump. Changing a daily routine is a good way to get out of that funk. Picking up a new hobby, cooking a new recipe, joining a new club or trying a new physical activity are great ways to escape your typical routine.

“My parents got me a longboard for Christmas so I’ve been attempting to skate around campus,” said Itzel Tiscareño, junior political science major. “I tried being more efficient skating to class and it’s made my commute more exciting, even though I sprained my foot when I fell off once.”

Being intentional about shutting off your phone, social media and laptop will give extra time in one’s day and help some to fall asleep faster.

Light therapy has also been proven to help a variety of mood disorders or lift mental states—but not light from a screen. Try soaking in the California sunshine or opening the blinds during the day in your apart apartment or dorm to help lift your mood when you feel dreary.

About Alexandra Applegate

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