Some people do and some people don’t!
Sadly, I do. How about you?
Do you feel the effects of less sunlight and colder days? I keep forgetting that I do until I start noticing that I am low on energy, get discouraged easily, feel tired and grumpy and blah. This is a really distressing way to exist when you are someone who enjoys feeling energetic and excited about learning new things, working on projects and of course teaching all of my mind-body and fitness classes.
With the days getting shorter and the sunshine less abundant we can sometimes feel like hibernating and, oh…do I ever feel like hibernating this year! Especially with all the Covid challenges out there! Unfortunately, millions of people experience low mood, anxiety, food cravings, fatigue and even major depression during the fall and winter months. It should be noted that there is a difference from feeling a little blue to what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a recurring type of depression with a seasonal pattern.
According to the Mayo Clinic some factors that may come into play include:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
What can help with the winter blues?
First of all, it is always important to have a conversation with your health care provider about what you are experiencing. I LOVE my naturopath. She asks the right questions to get the full picture of what is going on and she can connect the dots and give me the best strategy for me. I can’t say that about my family doctor. So, if you family physician is not open to addressing this real issue please connect with a great naturopath. Don’t suffer in silence. That just sucks!
In addition to some of the common treatments your medical practitioner may suggest such as therapy, medication, supplements and remedies, there are many other nutrition and lifestyle tools that can support a healthy mood during the colder months including:
- Make sure that you get a restful night’s sleep. Connect with a sleep specialist if you are really struggling with this. Sleep is arguably the most important part of a healthy life. Let’s face it, we need great sleep to restore, rejuvenate, repair, fight disease and function like a well-oiled machine. Great sleep is the foundation. You know how it goes; you can’t build on a lousy foundation. Get this right so that your efforts with the next suggestions amplify the possible improvements.
- Eat nutritious food at least 80% of the time and really enjoy and appreciate the less than nutritious food 20% of the time. Seriously, enjoy your food and don’t get into restrictive diets. I have never endorsed any of the fad diets out there and I NEVER will. Normally I would say “never say never” but in this case I say NEVER, EVER, EVER!
- Stay well hydrated. Make sure that you don’t just rely on caffeine beverages to give you that energy boost you are craving. As simplistic as it sounds, drinking the right amount of water throughout the day will get you that desired energy boost.
- Get more physically active and get outside as much as you can.
- Get organized. Set specific days and times through the week to focus on your exercise sessions, your meal prep, your creative projects and your mind-body, meditation, quiet or prayer time. THEN stick to the schedule and enjoy getting’er done! Or simply get it done so that you don’t beat up on yourself for not doing it. We all know that beating ourselves up is so easy to do. We shouldn’t but we do. So, stick to your schedule 😊
- Stay connected with friends and members of your family that you usually enjoy chatting with.
- Put a smile on your face and enjoy the physiological shifts in your body from that simple thing.
- Take a moment to write in a journal. I have been journaling for decades and I can easily tell when the blues start to invade my life. My handwriting looks different and I word vomit all the crap that I am feeling. My life is actually not that bad but on paper it looks beyond miserable when the blues start to creep in. I can also see when I shift my efforts into doing all that I am suggesting in this blog. It doesn’t take long that I get back to my less blah or grumpy self.
- Try light therapy. Get outside when the sun is shining bright and try a light therapy lamp when you can’t. I love my lamp at this time of the year. We are not in the depths of long hours of darkness yet but I have learned, over the years, that starting now is really effective to nip things in the bud.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck and need help getting started with healthy habits, set a time with me to help you get the support, resources and tools that will get you on a path to a healthy and happy fall and winter season!
Disclaimer: For general information purposes only. Not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Please contact your primary health professional for diagnosis.