Beat The Winter Blues

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This photo taken from my back door this morning!

Another foot of snow drifted down in our mountain town today, which makes the skiers and school children VERY HAPPY. (School is cancelled today!) There are many of us who just love winter and there are also those amongst us who struggle during the long wintery months.

The cold weather can drag our spirits down, and the lack of warm sunshine can really do a number on the mood. Be it a slight case of the winter blues, or the more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the symptoms tend to leave some of us feeling low energy and depressed. Luckily the good news is that there are healthy ways to fight back the winter blues. Here are a few ideas on how to keep the blues at bay, and feel happier and more balanced this winter:

Exercise Outdoors: ­ Exercise might seem like the last thing you want to do when you are depressed or feeling down. However, once you get moving exercise can make a huge difference on your mood and energy level. Exercise helps boost serotonin levels (the mood regulator that fights depression and controls hunger). So, keeping those levels up can help you feel good and keep your weight in check. If you can get outside to exercise, even better....You will also benefit from the extra dose of sunshine and fresh air!

Treat Yourself Well: Winter is a good time to gift your body with a little extra pampering, so engage in health­ promoting activities that make your body feel good. Go to your favorite yoga class. Bring home some flowers from the local market. Take a sauna, book a massage, spend some time in a hot tub, or curl up with a great book on the couch.

Eat wisely: Avoid sugar, processed foods and alcohol. Focus on foods that boost your mood and brain chemistry like dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and swiss chard. These foods are hands down the most nutrient ­dense choices to eat every day. Include lots of plant based fats like avocado and walnuts daily. These foods contain all of the healthy omega­3 fats and oleic acid that your brain needs in order to run smoothly.

A few high quality supplements can really help keep your spirits high during the winter months.

Here are my favorite blues ­busters:

  • Vitamin D:  Known as the “sunshine vitamin” many people who live in wintery climates do not get enough vitamin D. There is growing evidence to suggest a link between SAD and low vitamin D levels.
  • Fish Oils play a role in the synthesis of serotonin, and are thought to elevate mood and decrease depression. Eat fish 2­3 times a week during winter months and take a fish oil supplement.
  • Melatonin: 2-3 mg of melatonin at bedtime can be helpful in relieving symptoms in some SAD suffers. Melatonin levels in the brain tend to drop as we age, making it harder to get a good night’s rest.
  • MagnesiumLow levels of magnesium can compound SAD symptoms by decreasing the production of mood-stabilizing serotonin and melatonin.  400-600mg of magnesium taken at bedtime works well for most people and promotes relaxation.

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