The shorter days, lack of sunlight and elevated Christmas stress levels can contribute to us feeling a little SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many of us, whether we know it or not. Common symptoms are lower mood, increased irritability and feeling more tired.
SAD is believed to be bought on by the lack of sunlight we're exposed to in the winter months. The essential Vitamin D our bodies need to stimulate serotonin production is reduced, then the consequent lower levels of the hormone serotonin leads to a dip in our moods.
So how can we combat SAD and boost our moods this winter? SAD can be serious and if you find yourself feeling very low it's best to see a professional. However, upping your intake of vitamin D and other nutrients through your diet can help.
Here's 7 foods to load up your shopping trolley with...
It's commonly known that fish is a great source for Omega-3, and provides our bodies with essential amino acids we needs to help elevate our mood and increase our energy levels.
Salmon and (fresh) tuna are brilliant examples of bony fish for both Omega-3 and lean protein.
Also rich in Omega-3 and healthy fats, nuts are great to snack on while boosting your mood levels. They're also beneficial for post-workout foods as they aid with muscle recovery.
Nuts have the bonus properties of strengthening our nails and making our hair glossy! Try adding some nuts to your breakfast porridge or salad too.
Natural sugars and a variety of great vitamins are in abundance in berries. They're tasty, great for snacking and their natural anti-oxidant properties aid with brain health, muscle recovery and inflammation. Especially blueberries and cranberries!
Folic acid can be found in leafy salads, sunflower seeds and most oaty breakfast cereals. It plays a vital role for aiding serotonin production and thus mood elevation. If you need extra convincing - folic acid has also been used in the production of antidepressant medication.
Milk, egg yolks and most fish contain Vitamin D, the same vitamin that we lack in the winter months. Hence why it's also known as the "sunshine vitamin".
Milk is a brilliant post workout recovery drink and it's 18 amino acids are essential for muscle recovery and repair. However, the vitamin D found in milk aids with mood regulation, so be sure to make yourself some tasty 'shakes this winter!
Studies have shown that the natural anti-oxidants, polyphenol, found in dark chocolate are brilliant for a healthy heart. More recently, studies have shown how dark chocolate can help with physical performance.
The same way these properties help with the heart and relaxing the blood vassals, they aid with brain function as well. Studies have linked dark chocolate with brain function and serotonin production. Although, dark chocolate is very calorie dense, so small portions of roughly 30g per day are recommended.
Naturally occurring sugars and potassium can be found in bananas which help fuel your brain, and keep it functioning well. Magnesium is also found in bananas, which has been linked to reducing anxiety and improving your quality of sleep, disruption to which is another SAD symptom.
In addition to these essential mood boosting foods this winter, it's important to maintain regular exercise and reduce your unhealthy sugar intake as this will lead to an inevitable sugar crash.
Head to the supermarket and stock up on your winter mood fuels, and combat the winter blues.