Staying Happy, Healthy, and Socially Connected; How to Evade the Winter Blues

Fortunately, in Boulder, gorgeous blue skies often accompany our snowy winter days. However, the initial fervent excitement that ski season brings tends to wear its welcome come mid-March, when we yearn for consistently warm days. Memories of the sun’s heat and that telltale scent of the trees that wafts over the Front Range once the winter’s chill has thawed; renewal and re-growth welcome Spring. I can already predict this chain of events, and it is but early February and we’ve just experienced several Real cold spells, what ever that means in this erratic Colorado climate.

So, in anticipation of at least one bout of the Winter blues, I would like to share some ideas on how to stay well and feel positive and connected to yourself, your body and your community on these short cold days during our long Winter.

1.Stay Social: One common factor of cold short days, is the desire to cuddle up at home and avoid the frigid dark nights in favor of your cozy couch and a movie. While the latter sounds absolutely optimal, maintaining your sense of connectedness, socially, is of prime importance, and can vastly improve your mood and mental wellbeing.

Solution: Luckily, Boulder has a lively social scene that does not dull during the cold months. Many restaurants and bars offer special weeknight entertainment that can act as the perfect way to lure yourself and your friends out for some fun, relaxed socialization!

 

Where to go: Bitter Bar (Live Music), Connor O’Neal’s (Live Music), Laughing Goat (Live Music), Piece Love and Chocolate (Fun Classes!), Agora at the Riverside (Events and Music), Mountain, Southern and Under the Sun (February is Stout Month!), the ladies at Shine always have something fun up their sleeves, this month for Valentines Day, they’re holding a tasting Dinner, Burlesque show and Dance Party… a wonderful way to let loose and meet some fun new people! Don’t forget Boulder’s numerous breweries/wineries/distilleries and tasting rooms: Upslope, Avery, Twisted Pine, Wild Woods, 303 Vodka, Roundhouse, Sanitas Brewery, BookCliff Vinyards, Redstone Meadery and tons more!

 

2.Eat warming, comforting foods: But! Make smart choices that serve you and don’t make you feel lethargic. Our bodies naturally crave rich, warm, often heavy foods during cold months. There is a legitimate reason for this, listen to your cravings and what they suggest about your diet, rather than just jumping to satisfy a passing desire.

Solution: Look for foods that satisfy the core of your craving. For example, many times when we are in need of water, protein or healthy fats, we experience an almost insatiable craving for sweets. Take a moment, assess what it is that your body really Needs and try looking for a snack or meal that satisfies your hunger rather than momentarily squelching a craving that will likely return with full force. Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk/oil, nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, and avocado, all help to satiate and taste amazing.

I crave Thai curry- A rich, delicious, spicy dish that offers tons of flavor along with a dose of healthy fats from coconut milk, which are extremely satiating and you can always add chicken, shrimp or tofu for a protein boost. I could eat this all year round, but it is perfect on a chilly day. Alternate options include Dark Chocolate- An absolute must, in my humble opinion. I love sweets, so I go for rich, anti-oxidant packed dark chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard.

 

Where to Go: Buddah Thai and Thai Shi House are two of my favorites for Thai food in Boulder. Piece Love and Chocolate has decadent, rich dark chocolates. Zeal offers a Fall/Winter menu that features some amazing options for healthy, delicious cold-weather dishes. Some of my favorites are the Lamb Braise with yellow curry, sweet potato, carrots, spices and quinoa; and the Shrimp Piccata with garlic green beans and sweet potato “papradell.” Black Belly is one of Boulder’s newest and most acclaimed new lunch/dinner spots. Their heavily protein-centric menu is refined yet accessible and absolutely phenomenal. Lyfe Kitchen is also a great new addition to Boulder; with a menu right on the pulse of Boulder’s tastes, their healthy offerings definitely aren’t short on flavor.

 

3.Spice It Up- Adding spices to food not only enhances flavor, but they’ve been shown to have amazing antioxidant qualities, for example, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric have all been touted for their anti-inflammatory and heart-health benefits, spicy foods rev up your metabolism, aid in digestion and the sweet burn you experience through spicy foods containing capsaicin like cayenne, jalapeños, habaneros actually improve your mood!

Where to Go: Efrain’s Green chili will melt your face off, and it’s wonderful. Chez Thuy’s Duck Pho is flavorful and comforting. You can increase the spice-level by adding the jalapeños that come alongside your sprouts and Thai basil. I always like a little sriracha in my pho as well. On a side note, yet still extremely relevant to this article, one of the biggest food trends right now is bone-marrow broth ie. The traditional pho broth, which is high in vitamins and minerals and contains a high level of collagen, which is wonderful for your skin.

 

4.Stay Active- As tempting as it is to sit in front of your fireplace with a hot toddy during this chilly winter months, physical activity will help to maintain a positive mind-set when seasonal-depression is looming. Sustaining a good body-image can be tough when the lure of the couch seems inescapable but there are easy ways to increase your activity without committing to hours of strenuous exercise.

Where to Go: Layer-up and head out to Pearl Street, Boulder’s favorite social hub and walking-mall. Grab a warm latte at Boxcar on east Pearl (and maybe some of the artisanal dark chocolates from Cured!) and make your way down Pearl. Be mindful and present to your surroundings and in lieu of rushing from store-to-store for heated refuge, make a conscious decision to enjoy your surroundings. Oh, the wanders that a warm base-layer and some insulated gloves can do for our wellbeing.

And just to state the obvious, you live in Boulder, our extremely frigid days are few and far between and often times we are lucky enough to have vividly clear blue skies to lift our spirits. There are too many outdoor options to even name here, but let’s touch on some of the obvious ones.

Skiing and snowboarding in Colorado is world-class, people travel here from all over the world and it’s right here in your backyard. Snowshoeing is a less strenuous way to enjoy the beauty of the winter months, something I prefer as a photographer. I can have conversations with my friends, stand in awe of the delicacy of a peacefully quiet backcountry winter scene. Being the dedicated foodie that I am, I always come bearing treats to enhance my enjoyment of the experience at hand. A wonderful, local company, What We Love Winery crafts the beautifully rich ‘Decadent Saint’ mulled wine in a pouch. The sultry chocolate notes set this traditional drink apart from the others and the pouch comes with a warmer!! Hot mulled wine anywhere you please, genius, I say.

 

In actuality, the winter blues will only envelope you if you let them. Your perspective will dictate how you feel during these long cold months and if you choose to see and experience all of the wonderful options that we are lucky enough to have at our disposal, then you will thrive. Honestly, I’m sure that each of us have a day or two that seem especially dreary where none of these options sound tempting, but that will pass. Enjoy your day-to-day consciously and with gratitude for what you Do have. If you’re visiting this site and interested in reading about food and lifestyle, we share a commonality, an enjoyment for the small things in life, and that will serve you in the long run.

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Bitter Bar Salted Dark Chocolate Locally Sourced Beef

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All Images: Courtesy of Shannon Hudson Photography.

Shannon Hudson

About Shannon Hudson

For Shannon, traveling and exploring new places and foods is a passion and priority. A University of Colorado graduate in Fine Arts Photography, she studied and interned with photographers in France and San Francisco, where her culinary interests began to expand beyond her Austin roots and foundation in American cuisine. She is now in a perpetual search for all that is new and exciting in Boulder's food scene. In addition to writing for EDB, she handles our social media efforts; if you tweet us, she will most likely be your respondent!

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