Gone are the days of frolicking in the sun, feeling full of life and carefree…unless you paid a hefty sum to fly south to pretend that it is summer again for one short week.
Unfortunately, with the shorter days of winter, you are more likely to suffer from mood disturbances and energy depletion. These are physiological reactions to a lack of light that can affect you in several ways.
First of all, without the sun’s rays hitting your skin, your body is unable to produce significant amounts of vitamin D. Many studies show an association between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder, non-specified mood disorder, major depressive disorder and premenstrual syndrome. Talk to your licensed healthcare practitioner to find out just how much and what type of vitamin D is right for you.
Secondly, the longer, dark nights may throw off your natural circadian rhythm, resulting in changes in your melatonin levels. This commonly occurs in the fall and winter, may contribute to a depressed mood, irritability and headaches.
What Can You Do to Beat the Winter Blues?
Embrace winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, downhill skiing and snowboarding. Take brisk walks or jog in the cold, but be prepared with the proper equipment. Even just 20–30 minutes of daily exercise stimulates the release of natural feel-good endorphins, reduces stress and helps us to re-establish a healthy circadian rhythm.
Get your vitamin D levels tested by your licensed healthcare practitioner. He or she can help you find a well-absorbed kind and tell you how much you should be taking to avoid any negative side effects.
Treat yourself to a cup of real hot cocoa. Cocoa contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to boost mood, improve concentration, reduce stress, help protect your heart and blood vessels, and slow aging. Camino is a great brand that offers 100% cocoa powder and various hot chocolate mixes.
Laugh daily. Watch a funny television show or movie. I find Modern Family, 30 Rock and the Comedy Channel are all great for a good chuckle. Go to a comedy club. Subscribe online to a joke of the day or watch funny clips on YouTube. The possibilities are endless. Laughing reduces stress and improves mood.
Avoid caffeine, sugar, white flour and refined carbohydrates. Although they make you feel good in the short term, they will zap your energy later in the day and make you feel guilty, which will only bring you down further.
Get together with friends, family members, loved ones and animals/pets. Social interaction increases the release of mood-enhancing and stress-reducing compounds.
With these simple steps, you can start feeling better now!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.