By Loren Chidoni, Women’s Health
Early spring grays giving you the blues? It’s no surprise. Lack of sunlight can cause a serious drop in your level of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that’s found in the brain. And without enough serotonin, our mood descends into darkness or, at the very least, an unpleasant crabbiness (you know, the bad temper we typically blame on the rain). Fortunately, you can outsmart wicked weather patterns with these mood-boosting tips as you await the arrival of sunnier days.
Light Up Your Life
If a Miami mini-break isn’t an option, seek out a light box. A strong one that emits at least 10,000 lux can have the same effect as basking in the early-morning sun—minus the cancer-causing UV rays. Place the light box on a table near you—you need only 30 minutes of exposure to increase your serotonin levels and leave you “more alert and energized, two factors that contribute to a good mood,” says Michael Terman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at New York City’s Columbia University Medical Center. For more info—such as where to buy a light box—visit cet.org.
Devour Chocolate Daily
It’s true: One small square a day can keep the blues away. Chocolate contains a pleasure-promoting, mood-regulating neuro-transmitter called phenylethylamine, which stimulates a rush of endorphins, the same compounds released during an orgasm. Studies show that cocoa has almost twice the amount of antioxidants as red wine, so it helps lower blood pressure and wards off wrinkles. When snacking, stick to dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa; it’s healthier than the milk-infused variety.