It’s time to talk about the winter blues! Depending on where you live in the world, it’s pretty common to feel less energized and optimistic during the cold winter months. It’s a time when we have less access to natural sunlight and the temperature drops.
Some of us even experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D., in fact about 5% of Americans and 10% of Canadians experience depression during the winter months. There are many ways you can ease the impact the winter season has on you emotionally but if you are suffering from S.A.D., you should obviously talk to your doctor. If you are curious about ways you can start lifting your mood, below is my experience battling the winter blues.
This year, I finally cracked the code to feeling happy during winter. What I’m about to say may seem obvious to some, but for me it took a long time for this lesson to be learned. I strongly dislike being cold and therefore used to avoid being outside during the late fall and winter as much as humanly possible. People always told me I should choose a winter hobby and spend more time outside but I couldn’t wrap my head around why I would want to be outside when it was so cold and miserable. As it turned out, they were right. For a non-winter person, being outside every day for pleasure (as opposed to commuting to work or running errands) makes winter so much more palatable and dare I say, enjoyable.
For the first time in my life, I have been going outside, for hikes, almost every day in the winter and the normal wintertime anxiety and S.A.D. I experience are barely existent. Now, I realize not everyone has a schedule that will allow them to go hiking in the middle of the day, but making a commitment to yourself to go outside for a walk on your lunch break or right after work can make a huge difference. Make a habit of going for a 15-20 minute walk daily, to get natural sunlight and raise your heart rate – and let me know how you feel in a month. In general, hiking is beneficial for your mental health and going for walks through winter will extend these benefits all year round.
If hiking isn’t for you, you can make plans to go for a walk in your neighbourhood, skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or even tobogganing. The point is to get outside as much as possible!
One issue with this plan is that even if you get outside every day, you may not be getting any sunlight (our natural source of vitamin D) – it’s not uncommon for winters to be dark and dreary. This is an instance when you may want to invest in a light therapy lamp. You can easily find small and affordable versions of them in stores and online – which will fit on your desk so you can use them on as you work. Supplementing vitamin D is another easy option, particularly if you start supplementing before winter (e.g. in autumn).
Working one on one with someone who can build a custom meal plan for your needs is another option to ensure you optimize your health and wellness all year round. Contact me for a quick discovery session and we can figure out how you can reach your goals.