5 Ways to Reduce Stress & Boost Your Mood

Host a dinner party for your favorite people. 
Host a dinner party for your favorite people.

Maybe it’s the total lack of sunshine, temps in the single or negative digits, or that my summer glow has been replaced by a dry pallor, but winter often leaves me simultaneously stressed with a serious case of the blahs. And when I get the blahs, I make poor decisions. Not like spring break poor decisions, but like eating junk, laying around, feeling like a waste of space. Eventually my slothiness catches up to me, pushes my stress and anxiety into overdrive… which often leads me back to the junk food and the laying around.

Every year I make a conscious effort to break through the winter blahs. Here’s five ways I do it.

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Try Something New

If you come here often, you know I am all about trying new stuff. Last weekend, I went snowmobiling for the first time. I was a little scared, preemptively embarrassed (because what if I looked stupid?!), and afraid I’d crash or fall through the ice (unlikely on a -17 degree day). But you know what? Spending a mere 10 minutes on the sled left me smiling, feeling accomplished and totally stress-free. I spent the rest of the day walking on air and reeking of exhaust. So whether is motorsports or trying a recipe, get out of your comfort zone and watch your blahs melt away.

5-HTP

Hello, old friend. 
Hello, old friend.

Nope, it’s not C3PO’s cousin. I’ve been taking 5-HTP on and off for years. My therapist (yep, not ashamed to admit I have one!) recommended it to me many years ago when I was feeling a wee bit stressed and anxious. It’s a drug-free supplement that promotes positive mood, energy, and helps alleviate stress by helping body’s synthesis of serotonin. It’s also known to boost your metabolism, which I’ve certainly noticed. But maybe I just had more energy to workout. Who knows. All I can say is that I love it.

PS If you’d like to try 5-HTP, Natrol (the brand I’ve taken many times) is offering a $5 coupon here. Learn more about these guys via Twitter or Facebook.

Put the Pizza Down

If I want to feel stressed, bloated, sad and lethargic, I like to eat a bunch of pizza, then wait 20 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating pizza. If I could eat it every day, I would. But if I did, you wouldn’t want to be around me (and neither would anyone else). When I eat healthy things, like fruits, veggies, nuts and lean proteins, I am the best version of myself. Happier, healthier & certainly less stressed out. I’ve found that enjoying a smoothie packed with nutrients in the morning helps set me up for success the rest of the day. Here’s a few ways I make sure my smoothies are extra delicious.

Get Outside

Go walk your dang dog. 
Go walk your dang dog.

Yes, it might be crazy cold where you live (sure is here in Minnesota!), but 30 minutes of fresh air boosts immunity, increases happiness, helps you get your daily vitamin D, and naturally energizes you. Anecdotally, I’ll just say that taking my dog on a 45 minute walk is often the thing I look forward to most– after some fresh air, I am relaxed and ready to get back to work, with a smile on my face to boot.

Host a dinner party

Hanging out with the people I love is literally what gets me though winter. It’s rejuvenating, fun and puts me in a great mood for days. If the thought of hosting a dinner party stresses you out, maybe just order takeout. Or subtly suggest the idea to a friend who loves to cook & will host. You get all the benefits, without all the dirty dishes.

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What are your go-to stress reducers? Oooo I forgot Epsom salt baths! And taking three long, deep breaths. Those are great, too. Anyhow, share your tips in the comments.

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