Beat Those Winter Blues

Gone are the days of frolicking in the sun, feeling full of life and carefree… unless you have paid a hefty sum to fly south of the equator to pretend that it is summer again for just one short week.

Unfortunately, with the shorter days of winter, you are more likely to suffer from mood disturbances and energy depletion. It is a physiological reaction 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 health care practitioner to find out just how much and what type of vitamin D is right for you.

Secondly, the longer, dark nights may through off our natural circadian rhythm, resulting in changes in melatonin levels. This commonly occurs in the fall and winter when daylight hours are reduced. These changes in melatonin levels may contribute to a depressed mood,  irritability and headaches.

What can you do to beat those winter blues?

Embrace winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, skating, downhill skiing and snow boarding. 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 from your licensed health care practitioner. They can help you find a well-absorbed find 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 great for a good chuckle. Go to a comedy club. Subscribe online to a joke of the day or watch funny clips on You Tube. 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 health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

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