5 Gentle Ways to Beat the Winter Blues February 05 2016
Up here in the Northern Hemisphere our winter months can seem unending. The cold snap usually settles in by mid-October, and we can see snow all the way up until the month of May! You can imagine the kind of toll that takes on those of us who prefer a warmer climate. Even die-hard winter lovers (like me) can find the endless gray canvas to be monotonous and dreary, especially without a blanket of snow and icicle-laden branches to add some beauty to the landscape. Here are some gentle ways to beat the winter blues and keep your spirits lifted as we continue to move through these colder months. Special thanks to our nutritionist friend, Jackie McCaffrey, for these great suggestions.
1. Vitamin D
In the winter months, if we aren't huddled together keeping cozy indoors, most of our bodies are covered up when we do venture outside. With all of this coverage, we don't get the benefits of the vitamin D we are used to when the weather is warmer. Recent studies also indicate that the further north you are in the northern hemisphere, the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient. Supplementing your diet with high-quality Vitamin D can be hugely beneficial in fighting off disease, strengthening your body's natural calcium absorption, and boosting overall mental health. Be sure to speak to your healthcare professional and do your own research, as not all vitamin brands are equal, and you may need to pair some vitamin combinations to maximize their effectiveness. For example, vitamin D3 is vastly preferred over D2 because it is more efficiently processed by the kidneys, and it is widely recommended to take vitamin K and magnesium in conjunction with vitamin D.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids (especially from fish oils)
There is so much good going on with those Omega 3's, it's a bandwagon you need to get on! Some benefits of Omega 3 acids include anti-inflammatory effects, brain function support, immune support, and cardiovascular support, but our modern day diets are deficient in these fatty acids, which our bodies don't naturally produce. It's the brain function part that makes this supplement so helpful in combatting depression, and there's a ton of information about dosage and benefits. You can start with some of the links below.
3. Treat Your Body Well
If you're willing to take the time to research and embrace healthy dietary supplements, now would be a great time to consider your diet. The latest nutrition research suggests that a diet rich in healthy fats, vegetables, healthy sources of protein and low in simple carbohydrates is ideal for overall health. Making big change can be daunting, especially if you're already feeling low, but start slow. The internet is full of delicious, nutritious food ideas, recipes, and resources to help you attain optimal health. Our bodies are intimately connected to our minds, and what we put in them affects how we feel both physically and emotionally. You deserve to feel great inside and out, at any time of the year.
4. Get Moving
Twenty to thirty minutes of cardiovascular activity is proven to help support mental health, but generally speaking, I feel a bit ill at the idea of cardio. If you're anything like me, the notion of choking down the freezing cold air to go for a jog or dodging slushy, muddy puddles as you hope to heck you're not going to land in one seems like a really bad idea. The good news is that cardio is defined as anything that gets your blood pumping, and if you're creative, there are some great ways to incorporate cardio into your routine. Consider the vast amount of awesome YouTube exercise channels, or stock up on exercise DVDs from your local library to sample in the comfort of your living room. Remember, dance is a form of cardio too! There are all kinds of fun dance-based exercise workouts to be found (for free!) on the internet. If you're truly brave and know that you need to sign up for a class outside of the home to keep active, this is an awesome idea. It will be refreshing to get out of the house, and you might make new friends. You know what else is a great way to enjoy cardio, the cozy indoors, and extra heat? I'll give you a hint: it starts with an 's' and ends with an 'x'.
If you are feeling lethargic, negative, anxious, depressed, achy, and just altogether bad for any prolonged amount of time (say more than a couple of weeks) take good care of yourself and speak to a trusted healthcare provider. Pay attention to your physical and emotional symptoms, and recognize the messages you are receiving from yourself. Slow down your routine where you can, or find meaningful ways to keep more busy and active, if that's what makes you feel better in the world. You know yourself best; trust your instincts about your own health and give yourself permission to make YOU a priority. Spend time treating your body with love. Take long baths with a great book, indulge in a shower gel that fills you with joy, book massages, get a haircut at a trendy barber shop, cook beautiful, healthy meals, have some good quality chocolate, only wear attractive loungewear when you are at home. Take some time and make a list of the activities that make you feel comfortable, cozy, happy, and safe. Consider this your hibernation time, and try to incorporate something from this list each day until the spring arrives.
Some Links for Further Reading:
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy
Natural Energy Boosting