Well team, it looks like winter is officially in full swing! With shorter days and the temperature dropping, we can start to experience a case of the “winter blues.” What does this mean exactly? Do you feel tired, don’t want to leave your house, maybe you’re fighting a cold constantly or are just experiencing the very technical medical term of ‘the blahs’? Welcome to the Winter Blues. This can be characterized by mild depression, low energy and a lack of motivation. During this time, many of us also engage in less physical activity, socializing and are exposed to minimal sunlight – especially relevant because we live in Canada. But, luckily there are a few ways we can boost our mood and create a positive experience through the winter months.
In order to really boost your mood, get up and get moving! Go for a walk outdoors, visit the gym, do some yoga or go dancing. Any activity really, that will get your heart pumping. Exercise will boost your metabolism, give you energy and best of all will help to improve your mood.
Light up your life
Artificial light therapy is one of the best ways to boost your mood during the winter months. Invest in a lamp that emits greater than 5,000 lux and sit in front of it for 30 minutes each morning. The lamp mimics the light outdoors giving you a boost of serotonin (a.k.a. your happy hormone!). Also, consider opening the shades as soon as you get up and sit beside a window as you sip your favourite tea!
“You are what you eat.” The foods you consume have a great effect on your general well-being and mood. Ditch the refined and processed foods. These foods contain virtually no nutrition and may cause decreased energy and mood. Instead, choose a diet with whole foods such as complex carbohydrates, vegetables (especially root vegetables because they’re still technically in season) and fruits, lean meat, etc. These foods provide the nutrition your body needs and will stabilize your blood sugar.
Find your happy place
You may find that when the days get colder you tend to refrain from activities that usually bring you happiness. Encourage yourself to break out of this slump by engaging in activities or hobbies that bring some light back into your life. This can be anything from hanging out with friends, painting, knitting, going to see a movie, listening to your favourite tunes, etc.
Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D blood levels. Since we are located in the Northern hemisphere we are exposed to fewer ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Therefore, many Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D. During the winter we are exposed to even less sunlight and a Vitamin D supplement can help to maintain our levels and boost our mood. Speak to your doctor today!
Often times an imbalance in your thyroid gland can look like the winter blues. Common symptoms associated with lack of thyroid function include low mood, depression, weight gain, constipation, intolerance to cold temperatures, memory loss and brain fog. It is important to get your thyroid tested if you feel like you have any of these symptoms.
Cortisol is our stress hormone that is released from the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Cortisol has a specific pattern throughout the day. In the morning, cortisol spikes an hour before you wake up to get you up and get you going for the day. It rises until about lunchtime and then it starts to slowly decline all the way to bedtime where cortisol will be at it’s lowest level so that melatonin can rise allowing you to sleep. Often times, this smooth curve is not the case for most individuals. If you are that person who is having a hard time getting out of bed you are probably not producing enough cortisol. Or if after lunch you cannot focus and are fatigued your cortisol is most likely dropping too fast. The best way to test cortisol is through a saliva panel with 4 measurements throughout the day to see what kind of pattern your body has.
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