The Grizzly Growl

How to Stay Happy

A High Schooler's Guide to Staying Positive

Baileigh Beebe

Baileigh Beebe

Baileigh Beebe, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Winter is a very long season, especially in Utah. During winter, people tend to find themselves not quite as happy or energetic. While this might seem abnormal, it’s actually just a side effect of being human. Dr. Melina Jamp, M.D., a Los Angeles physician nutrition specialist said, “Mild changes in brain chemistry or the circadian rhythm — your body’s internal clock — related to the seasons can make you feel down. Winter blues, or feeling a bit less energetic on occasion during these months, is relatively common and may be related to a number of lifestyle factors — including decreased light exposure, decreased exercise due to colder temperatures, and decreased socialization during the colder, winter months.” You can’t stop the winter and the impact it has on the human body,  but you can fight it and try to lessen its effects. You can choose to be happy. Below are a few tips that if followed, won’t completely get rid of the winter blues, but will make it easier to get through them.

    • Exercise. I know it’s hard to find the motivation to go for a run or even muster the desire to go to the gym outside when there is snow covering the ground and it’s below twenty degrees outside, but exercise is a critical key in staying happy. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins and a chemical called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that basically acts as a reset button for your mood and helps clear your mind. If you were in a bad mood before exercising and couldn’t think clearly, once you started exercising the BDNF would be released and your mood would instantly be a little bit better and your mind would be clear. If you really don’t want to face the outside world by going to the gym, there are so many workouts you can do right in your own living room. Even just a ten minute Zumba session that you look up on Youtube is enough to make you happier. Pinterest is another great resource for finding workouts you can do at home.

 

  • Eat healthy. This one might be one of the hardest. With all the treats and big meals around the holidays, it’s easy to forget your limits and stuff your face with everything. Try to control yourself. “Highly refined carbs and sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar level, which can leave you feeling cranky,” says Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness. By trying to limit the amount of fatty, carb filled, sugary foods you eat, your body will naturally be a little happier. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pumpkin pie at the end of Thanksgiving or eat some of the Christmas candy. It’s all about moderation. Don’t eat too much, otherwise your body becomes unbalanced. If you struggle with moderation, try making a rule for yourself. Anytime you eat something unhealthy, you have to balance it out with something healthy, such as drinking a cup of water, eating a piece of fruit, or eating something with protein. This will help you limit what unhealthy food you eat, and make sure you’re getting the basic nutrients your body needs.
  • Drink water. Water is a very powerful tool. It can clear acne, help you lose weight, strengthen your immune system, prevent headaches and colds, and even make you happier. Research has shown that dehydration, which is when your body doesn’t have enough water, plays a major part in people’s mood. Lack of water can make you grumpier and more confused. Each day, make it a goal to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 100 lbs, you would to drink at least 50 oz of water each day. If you’re like me and tend to forget to drink, carry a water bottle around with you wherever you go as a reminder.
  • Enjoy the little things. Winter tends to have a negative connotation to it. Rather than focus on how miserable you are in the cold or how much it sucks to drive in the snow, try to remember the little things that make winter bearable. Create a mental checklist of positive things you like about winter that you can go through whenever you start to feel negative. For example, mine would be: I can finally wear my boots and have it be acceptable. The temple lights go up during winter and I can go enjoy them with my friends. Beanies are both fashionable and a way to stay warm, so that’s a win-win. There are so many possible dates to take a cute boy on. And the list just goes on. Whatever brings you joy, focus on that.

 

    • Stay warm. Although big, fluffy coats and snow boots aren’t always the greatest fashion statement, they are the key to staying warm, which leads to you staying happy. Winter demands more out of the body, forcing your body to compensate and try to produce heat that isn’t there. This leaves you feeling tired and sluggish. By doing what you can to stay warm, you are giving your body a break and making less heat it needs to make up for. Dress for the weather. No matter how tough you think you are, the weather will still affect your body and your mood. So dress warm wherever you go outside, and you will see an improvement in your mood.

 

  • Dress to impress. Winter is cold and wet. As mentioned above, it is important to stay warm in order to be happier during winter.  When I hear the phrase, “Dress warm” I instantly think of the huge, abominable snowman coats, thick hats, and the big snow gloves. Not the most attractive look, I must admit. However, it is possible to dress warm but still look good and have style. The first step is finding a coat you love. There are so many types of coats-pea coats, trench coats, the tradition abominable snowman coat, etc. Don’t just buy a coat to buy it. If you’re not going to actually wear it and be confident, it’s not worth your money. The second step to dressing warm but fashionable is the shoes. Boots are great for this task. They are warm and snow resistant, so they protect your feet and last a long time. Plus, there are so many different styles of boots that it is almost impossible for you to find a pair you don’t absolutely love. Boots are a perfect thing to splurge on. Once you have your coat and boots, it’s time to protect your ears and fingers. Beanies and gloves are a great way to look cute while still staying warm. You can even get a matching set at Walmart for $10. Plus, gloves have become so high tech-lately. Some now are created so that you can still type on your phone or take pictures while wearing them, leaving no excuses for letting your hands freeze. Staying warm doesn’t have to be chore. Let getting dressed be something that brings you a little bit of happiness during the winter. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box and create a style that is 100% you, but still warm.
  • Socialize. Although binge-watching your favorite Netflix show in bed, alone, seems like a great way to distract yourself from the winter blues, it actually can have the opposite effect. Humans are meant to interact with each other. Socializing is a great way to boost your mood during the winter. Grab a couple friends and do something together. You don’t have to plan big, fancy parties in order to socialize. You could go workout or go shopping or watch movies together or even do your homework together. It’s the little, daily things that will add up. And no, snapchatting someone constantly during the winter does not count as socializing. You need to physically interact with the people you love. That is what will make you genuinely happy.
  • Get away. This one might be a bit trickier. Once the holiday buzz is over, there’s not much to look forward to that happens during winter. So plan a little get away, something you can look forward to in the near future. It doesn’t have to be this big, elaborate trip around the world or cost lots of money to be beneficial. If you’re a snowboarder or skier, a great option is a trip to a ski resort. That helps you embrace what Utah winters have to offer and get away from the real world for a little bit. For those of us who don’t have the balance to snowboard or ski,  your best friend’s house for a sleepover is also a great getaway. Even just spending the day doing something you don’t normally do is great. You could spend the day at the mall or try indoor skydiving or serve at the homeless shelter. Anything will boost your mood and make you happier.
  • Choose to be happy. Being happy is up to you. According to psychology professor Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, “As much as 40 percent of our happiness is left for the intentional activities that we choose to engage in-the things that we do and think every day of our lives.” Some of happiness can’t be changed because of biology and how are bodies are made. However, our happiness does not depend on our situation, because each of us has the ability to change our situation. Sure, we can’t stop Utah from snowing, but we can change our mindset and how we see the snow. No one can force you to be happy except you. To truly be happy and see a change this winter, you will have to make a conscious decision every day that you are going to be happy. Some days will be harder than others. Life is going to throw things at you and that’s okay. Just try to not let everyday be bad.

 

Happiness is a very personal and individual thing. Each person will have different things that make them happy, and it is up to you to find out what makes you happy. This list is just a guide to get you started. Now go and make this winter your best and happiest one yet.

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