Beating the Winter Blues
‘Tis the season for holidays and cheer. For some, it’s the time for sadness due to the winter blues, seasonal depression, or (the medical term) seasonal affective disorder or SAD. This problem isn’t just brought on by the holidays; it’s primarily linked to the weather and how we react to it.
Have adequate levels of vitamin D.
Having adequate supplies of vitamin D in the body helps with brain function, bone health, a healthy immune system, muscle function, and so much more. Having low levels of vitamin D has been linked to depression. This vitamin, which we naturally get from the sun and some foods, tends to become deficient during the winter months when we stay warm indoors and rarely see the sun. Some great ways to increase vitamin D levels is to eat more fish, go outside when the sun is shining, or take supplements. I would recommend getting your vitamin D levels checked through a blood test. The “sweet spot” for vitamin D is serum levels between 40-60 ng/ml according to Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
Enjoy the sun when you can or supplement with a blue light.
Getting plenty of sunlight also helps with the production of serotonin not only because of the increase in vitamin D, but also because the light, practically the blue light, helps the brain build stronger connections. Stronger connections help the brain stay healthy. An unhealthy brain typically leads to depression. Blue light is also what helps wake us up in the morning and assists in producing melatonin at night to help give us a full night’s sleep. The winter blues can be banished by the getting enough blue light, a little ironic.
Get outside and be active during the day.
Just because it isn’t 80 degrees outside doesn’t mean you have to become sedentary and just stay inside. Try to keep doing the outdoor activities that you enjoy in the nice weather, or hit the slopes. If being active outdoors isn’t your thing and you’d rather stay warm inside, then working out is a great option. Physical activity has been very affective for treating depression and keeping your brain healthy.
Eat a lot of big hearty meals to fill you up.
Eat bigger heartier meals, such as stews or pot roasts. Bigger meals will help insulate us more for the cold. Also, the brain releases more serotonin throughout the day when we’re full and properly fueled. Although I typically advocate eating fewer carbohydrates, increasing them during the cold months is very beneficial to the mood.
At night, become nice and cozy.
Some of my favorite things about winter for me is being inside, having a fire roaring, a big mug of warm apple cider, being wrapped up in a blanket, and enjoying some time with friends. This creates a nice piece of mind and time to relax. The Norwegians call this koselig, meaning a sense of coziness. They practice koselig all the time and are consider experts on dealing with winter. So get tucked in with a big blanket and enjoy your time without the winter blues.