Fighting the Winter Blues
Not feeling so holly jolly this holiday season? Many people are negatively affected by the cold weather and dark days of winter but are expected to plaster on a smiley face for their family and friends. Sometimes this can lead to missed events all together because pretending to be happy when you’re not is hard. Hopefully, the tips below can help you avoid the winter blues.
Dashing Vit D – I bet you aren’t surprised I mentioned this fat-soluble vitamin. It’s really hard to consume enough vit D in our diet to meet daily requirements. The best source of vit D is that which is synthesized in our skin from sun exposure. During the winter (at least in North America), we are less likely to head outside, and just as our summer tan sadly fades our vit D levels hit an all time low. Lack of this vitamin leads to low mood, frequent cold/flus, and fatigue. Studies show 15 minutes of sun exposure A DAY is required to make enough vit D which many of us don’t get. You can test vit D levels in the blood to check your status. Low levels of vit D are usually recommended supplementation.
Twinkling Light – Ever look outside at 5 pm and think it’s actually midnight? Me too. Shorter days, make seeing daylight a challenge. This can be a major problem when regulating circadian rhythms, especially for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a diagnosable condition as apart of Major Depressive Disorder that occurs seasonally, typically in the colder months. Bright light therapy is one of the first line therapies used to treat this condition. This treatment includes being exposed to light for a half hour every morning. However, you don’t need to have a diagnosable condition to benefit from light exposure. As soon as the sun rises, try to get outside and let the sun naturally boost your energy in the morning.
Jiggle All the Way – One of my favorite work out activities is going for an outdoor run by the lake but in the winter months I cannot find the motivation to get outside. Our levels of activity decrease with the winter months, which can be dangerous since exercise is highly connected to overall mood. Studies show as little as 5 minutes of exercise can boost your mood. Yes, you read that right. 5 minutes!!! Join a class, find a work out buddy, try online videos or check out Tamara’s article from last week for both indoor and outdoor winter activities here ;) – don’t wait till the new year to start making activity goals.
Tis’ the Season of Giving – Kindness is contagious. Studies have shown giving to others actually makes us happier and boosts our mood. The holiday season is a great time to lend a helping hand or take the opportunity to spoil a loved one. I LOVE the idea of volunteering with an organization during the holidays because not only is that a generous act of kindness (and a mood boosting opportunity for YOU) but also provides a sense of community if loneliness is contributing to your low mood.
The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer is Singing Loud for All to Hear – ALLL I WANT FOR CHRISTMASSS IS YOUUU…oh sorry. In all seriousness, what I’m really highlighting here is the benefit of talking it out, either with someone you trust or a trained health care professional. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is highly researched for treatment of depression as well as SAD. It’s shown to be just as effective at treating Major Depressive Disorder as pharmaceutical antidepressants. But if you also find pretending to be Mariah Carey helpful for letting off some steam (as do I) then go for it!
Try it out – Grab a work buddy and use one of your breaks today to do some laps around the office. Let us know how you feel after J
As always our articles are for educational purposes only and not meant to replace a prescription. Please see your health care provider for a full assessment and recommendation. If you are having thoughts of self-harm and need immediate help please contact 911 or Canada Crisis Services at 1-833-456-4566.