7 (Semi-Specific) Ways to Beat the Wintertime Blues in Milwaukee

Here are some mood lifters to help you get through the cold and gray months.

SMILE, THOUGH YOUR HEART IS ACHIN’

For years, we’ve been relying on the work of psychologists with their fancy Ph.D.s to help us understand the human mind, when we could have just listened to noted singer/comedian/ Frosty the Snowman Jimmy Durante, who sang, “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.” Smiling, even if it’s forced, causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, which are mood boosters and stress reducers. A University of Cardiff study found that patients who were physically unable to frown due  to Botox injections reported being happier on average than their Botox-free companions.


CRANK THE TUNES (BUT KEEP IT POSITIVE)

To quote legendary nihilist Frederick Nietzsche, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” A Journal of Positive Psychology study found that participants who listened to upbeat music could improve their mood within two weeks. Unfortunately for us Radiohead lovers, the same did not apply when participants listened to sad music.


HIT THE SHOWERS

This one might not be as fun as listening to happy music, but an article in Medical Hypotheses proposed that cold showers can help stave off depressive symptoms. According to the article, cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system and releases noradrenaline and endorphins, which help improve mood.


CLIFFORD, THE BIG RED MOOD BOOSTER

Pet owners, on average, have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and they are less likely to suffer from depression. The physical affection, regular schedule and loving companionship that come with pet ownership all tend to have positive effects on our mental and physical well-being.


GET ON UP!

At this point, everyone has heard that exercise boosts mood and helps fight depression. So I’ll just say it again in all caps: EXERCISE BOOSTS MOOD AND HELPS FIGHT DEPRESSION. And guess what? A study from JAMA Psychiatry found that only 15 minutes a day of high-intensity exercise, like running, or even just one hour of moderate-intensity exercise, like a brisk walk, are enough to boost your mood.


FACE TIME

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who regularly meet with family and friends are roughly half as likely to report symptoms of depression compared with those who don’t. Here’s the catch: Phone calls and email don’t count. Depression symptoms were mitigated only through frequent face-to-face contact.


HE AIN’T A FATTY ACID, HE’S MY BROTHER

Fish, my dudes. You gotta get those omega-3 fatty acids. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health went through 26 previous studies to see what correlation existed between eating fish and depression, and it found that people who ate lots of fish were less likely to suffer depressive symptoms.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s 2020 Winter Playbook

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Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.