During the Winter months does your appetite feel out of control? Do you have intense carbohydrate, sugar or chocolate craving or maybe you feel unmotivated and even a little depressed?
If so, sounds like you might have a case of the “Winter Blues” – often referred to as “Seasonal Effective Disorder” or “S.A.D.” for short.
Truth is, it’s easy to have SAD if you live in New England like me, where the days are shorter, there’s less sunlight, the temperatures drop so cold (!) and we tend to find ourselves more socially isolated because of all of it. Sounds like an easy recipe for SAD for dinner with those ingredients!
What do you do if you can’t relocate to Hawaii or Florida?
Well the good news is there are actually several natural, easy and effective things you can do to help combat the negative symptoms of the Winter Blues so you can go from feeling “SAD” (“Seasonal Affective Disorder”) to G.L.A.D. (“Get Light And Vitamin D”!) almost immediately! YAY! Here are my top tips stay on track:
6 Tips to Go From S.A.D. to GLAD!
1. Get Adequate Natural, Full-Spectrum Light
Light Therapy is the #1 remedy for SAD!
Even though it may be cold out, bundle up and make it a priority to get outside, even for just 15 minutes a day so you can be exposed to sunlight which increases your serotonin and the “Happy Hormone”, Vitamin D (which is KEY for avoiding colds and flu and improving your immune health. It will also increase your melatonin which is important for restful sleep. Even if this means just rolling down your car window at a stoplight and letting the sun directly hit your face/arm/skin – it will help!
And if for some reason this doesn’t work for you, consider purchasing a full spectrum illumination lamp that you can put on your desk or somewhere in your home.
2. Get Moving!
Yup, you knew it was comin’ but no doubt about it, EXERCISE is proven to make you feel better!
When you get your body moving it increases blood flow and circulation (Hello ENERGY!), increases oxygen, helps eliminate toxins and clears and resets your mind. In addition, it also increases endorphins- you got it, more of those Happy Chemicals that make you feel good! You can think of these Happy Chemicals, or neurotransmitters, as nature’s Prozac but better because they don’t come with nasty side effects…SCORE!
I like to try to double up on the benefits and do some activity outside where I’m exposed to natural light and sunshine – yes ma’am, now you’re really talking!
3. Get Your Body Rhythm
We are creatures of nature and part of the bigger natural cycle of life. That’s why it’s crucial to harmonize your lifestyle with the season. I know, it’s hard to do in our Go-Go culture, but if you are serious about feeling good and having good energy you’ll be wise to make it a priority.
Synchronize your circadian rhythm’s (your body’s natural “clock”) with nature. The more you adapt your schedule to the cycle of the sun- the sunrise and sunset, the better you will feel. At night (3 hours before bed) AVOID bright lights, computer screens, and big screen TV’s. This artificial light disrupts the pineal gland in the brain that produces melatonin (the sleepy hormone). So use candles and dimmers after sunset or certainly 2 – 3 hours before bedtime. You’ll be amazed at the difference this can make.
4. Rest More…Period!
Winter is the season where all of nature is in a hibernation mode so why should we humans be any different?
This is the season to GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO LESS AND VEG-OUT MORE! Not feeling guilty about relaxing, having down-time, slacking off and my personal favorite, taking NAPS is not only OK right now but extremely important and healthy! It’s dark and cold outside for a reason! Take your queue from nature. All of nature is doing so why shouldn’t you?
5. Avoid (or at least minimize) Sugar
Everyone knows that sugar is no good for you and leads to increased cravings and weight gain but it’s important to remember that just one teaspoon of sugar can depress your immune system for up to 4 hours– leaving your more susceptible to colds, flu and viruses.
Moreover, after the initial rush, it also zaps your moods, leaving you lower than before. What a cruel trick (!)…but wait, you can have your cake and eat it too! Instead of sugar, you can use safe and delicious naturally sugar-free alternatives to sugar like Stevia or Monk Fruit or for a healthy and delicious grab ‘n go treat try one of my favorites here!
6. Be Sure to Have a Source of Fun/Joy in Your Life
This is a key underlying principle for everything.
So often we think of our diet and exercise program when it comes to our health and we overlook and minimize the importance of having something (or even someone) in our lives that is a regular source of pleasure, support, enrichment and love.
Whether it be a favorite hobby, pet, church group or just talking regular walks outside in nature, be sure you have something that feeds your soul and enriches your spirit, and then be sure to fight tooth and nail to make it a constant in your life!
7. Get adequate Vitamin D!
Ensure your body has enough of this critical, “anti-cancer” vitamin/hormone by (again!) getting OUTSIDE, away from technology and into the natural light – FAR AWAY from computer screens and #bluelight which can make you tire, sick, fat and grumpy!
The Mind-Body Connection is CRITICAL to lasting health and well being. Until we get that right, we will always have the “blues” regardless of what time of year it is!
Well, there you have it! I hope you found this article helpful and it helps to keep you healthy and happy not only during the Winter months but all year long! 🙂