Beating the Winter Blues

“Every Day May Not Be Good, But There Is Something Good In Every Day ”
– Alice Morse Earle

8 Ways to Beat Your Winter Blues!

overnight oats

Spring can’t get here soon enough! How many times have you muttered those words since the leaves fell off the trees? It’s been a long, cold winter for most of us this year. Here in Vermont, we spent most of the winter below freezing, and we got pummeled with several big snowstorms. A winter like this can take a toll on our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a major role in our overall mood. It increases serotonin, and helps to alleviate symptoms of depression. Our bodies actually synthesize Vitamin D with exposure to the sun, so lack of sun means a decrease in Vitamin D, and thus a decrease in serotonin. It can also effect melatonin levels which can disrupt your sleep patterns.

Woman tend to be most prone to deficiencies in Vitamin D. That’s not to say that men can’t suffer from it too, they actually have more severe symptoms than women do. I personally have always been affected by it every year and so I know how rough it can be by the time February and March roll around!

If you already have depression then your symptoms can worsen during the winter months.

Here is what I do to alleviate my symptoms and endure even the toughest winter like this one we are having this year in Burlington, Vermont.

Are you SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms:

  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Sleeping More
  • Less Energy
  • Changes in your Social Life & Interests.
  • Using more Comfort Foods, Drugs or Alcohol to Boost Your Moods.

Some great remedies for SAD:

Try Phototherapy

Phototherapy has been proven to help those effected by seasonal effective disorder (SAD). It helps by providing a broad spectrum light to the surface of the skin, much like the sun does. You simply sit in front of a light box for about 10 minutes and then you can shower, apply your sunscreen and start your lovely day!

Soak up some Sunshine

Getting a healthy dose of sunshine is one of the best things you can do during the winter months. Change window treatments, paint the walls lighter colors to allow more light in, go outside whenever you can! Find a winter sport that you enjoy to get you out there exercising while getting more sunshine in your life!

Supplement your Vitamin D

Vitamin D (1000 IU) is great for so many reasons! It is essential for the absorption of calcium and is even more important for strong bone development then calcium is. It has been proven to help prevent several types of cancer and is one of the most important nutrients. Most of us living in the northeast are deficient in our vitamin D since we are further away from the equator and we just don’t get enough sun during the cooler months of the year. If you wear sunscreen it does impact how much you absorb vitamin D and so you do want 10 minutes of sun exposure each day. As a skin therapist I recommend using a mineral sunscreen because I see so much skin cancer and pre-cancerous cells on young and mature skins.

Don’t Forget your Omegas!

Fish oil is an omega 3 essential fatty acid. It is highly anti-inflammatory and great for your health. Most of us are deficient in it unless you are eating wild caught salmon every day of the week. It is great for your cardiovascular system, heart health, it lowers cholesterol, reduces allergy symptoms, helps better support your vision, skin, eyes, hair, and nails. It is also great for depression of any kind and really does enhance your mood. I take it everyday, and it makes a big difference.

Get Off Your Butt!

Exercise is something that all of us know we should do, but often neglect. Exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety while boosting your self esteem and overall confidence. If not having enough time is your excuse, I have found that the 7 minute workout is a really great way to get back into working out without too much of a time commitment and it is the equivalent of working out for one full hour! So, how can you go wrong?!!

Find Your Zen

Meditation is free and very simple to do. It helps by promoting more oxygen intake through deep belly breathing. It only takes a minute a day to make a huge difference it the way you feel mentally, physically and even the way you are impacted by stress. Increasing oxygen flow relaxes the muscles, reducing anxiety and stress and boosts emotional stability. Yoga incorporates a lot of breath work and stretches the muscles to promote relaxation.

Reach for SAMe

SAMe is a natural supplement that can be used to treat depression, pain, and liver disorders like hepatitis C. SAMe is used as a medication in Europe for treating depression but here it is found as a supplement and you can find it in most health food stores. SAMe works best when taken with B12, B6 and folate and so taking a B Complex vitamin would be best, which also helps with mood and stress management. (check with your doctor before using this supplement since it can interact with other medications and should not be take if you have bipolar or manic depression or Parkinson’s disease.)

Have an Attitude of Gratitude

Expressing Gratitude is a very simple thing we can do to retrain our thought patterns by simply thinking of one positive thing each day that you are grateful for. It can be really small, for example, you shoveled the walkway or you paid that bill that you kept forgetting about. There is always something to be grateful for!

These are my “go to” strategies for beating the Winter Blues. This has actually been the first winter that I haven’t been effected by SAD at all. I’m not going to say that I’m not sick of how darn cold it has been but my mood hasn’t been any where near what it normally would have been!

So if you’re feeling a little down, and spring can’t get here soon enough, give these things a try! What are some of the ways that you stay positive during the dreary winter months?

Recipe of the Month

Apple & Spice Overnight Oatmeal

Start your day out right! Eating flour and high sugar content foods for breakfast will give you a very short mood boost and then you will crash and burn shortly there after. Eating something like whole oats (not instant) with fruit and spice to sweeten it, will not only provide a lot of great nutrition to start your day, but it will burn far more slowly and sustain you until lunch time! You will feel better for much longer eating something like this for breakfast and it is DELICIOUS!

This is so simple to make! You can make it ahead of time and eat it all week long! I like to make 2 or 3 of them on a Sunday so that I have a few pre-made breakfasts all ready to go for the week.

I make it in my 2 cup glass pyrex bowls that come with plastic lids.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sliced Almonds (or chopped walnuts if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon Flax Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Chia Seeds
  • 1 chopped Medjool Date, pit removed (optional)
  • 2/3 cup Almond Milk (use 1/3 cup milk if you like yours really thick)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (or 1 pinch ground vanilla bean)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Apple Sauce

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl or jar that holds about 2 cups, mix the first six ingredients and stir together until completely combined.
  2. Add the chopped date, milk, vanilla extract, apple sauce and then stir everything together again.
  3. Cover the container and then leave in the fridge overnight or until you are ready to eat it.
  4. Serve it cold or else you can heat it until it is the temperature you like. It tastes great either way!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.abeautifulmess.com

Links of the Month:

My Favorite Supplements:

Fish Oil w/ Vitamin D3:

Vegan Omega 3

Vegan Vitamin D3:

SAMe:

B Complex:

Photo Light Therapy:

Resources:

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