Oh, the winter blues. The days get shorter, darker, greyer, colder, and you just feel well…rather blah. Now, the winter blues are nothing to take lightly. Serious winter blues or winter depression could really be the mood disorder known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A regarded clinical condition, SAD is caused by a shortage of natural daylight and vitamin D. Research has found that 40 million North Americans are affected by SAD, with 75-80% of those being women. SAD also affects men and children, who may be more irritable, have trouble in school, and experience difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Some of the symptoms to watch out for with SAD include:
- Irritability, fatigue
- Concentration issues
- Mild depression, loss of interest
- Carbohydrate cravings
Fortunately, there are many natural remedies to help you manage the winter blues, whether they are mild or severe. Sleep
- Establish a regular bedtime (10pm is best) to set up a healthy circadian rhythm
- Ensure your room temperature is correct with a comfortable bed
- Avoid sugar, caffeine and processed foods that can affect your sleep
- Exercise on a regular basis to improve your sleep rhythms
Get Adjusted Making regular chiropractic adjustments part of your wellness routine will keeping you balanced as they help with boosting your energy, allowing for better concentration, strengthening your immunity, enhancing your sleep, and improving your mood and ability to cope with stress. An impaired nervous can negatively impact all aspects of your health. A wellness chiropractor will gently address any nerve dysfunction caused by misalignments in the spine. Achieving optimal spine and nervous system function will promote the body’s self-healing abilities and vitality. Exercise Regular exercise not only physically strengthens the body and immune system, it also a natural mood booster. Exercising releases the “feel good” neurotransmitters (serotonin) and neuropeptides (endorphins). In the wintertime, getting outside for a brisk walk with sun and fresh air will do yourself a world of good. Diet It is paramount to stick to a well-balanced diet in order to help the body cope with seasonal changes. Food provides the essential fuel that our body needs to function. Running on “cheap fuel” is only going to get a car so far. That same principle applies to our bodies.
- Concentrate on consuming nutrient dense foods like organic meats, good fats, fish, green veggies, whole grains, fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes
- Steer clear of sugar, white flour products, alcohol, and caffeine as these can alter blood sugar levels and stimulate stress
- The essential Omega 3 fatty acids sourced in fatty fish are said to have a direct effect on our mood, behaviour, and depression. In addition Omega 3s help with brain function, heart health, inflammation and skin, hair, and nails.
Sun Those suffering from the winter blues tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight for 10-15 minutes many times a week will naturally produce the body’s needed level of vitamin D. If possible, try not to wear sunglasses (unless unsafe to do so of course) as it restricts the path of natural light that travels from the eyes to the pineal gland, thereby increasing the risk of SAD. Light If you are in an area with no opportunity for exposure to sun rays, consider using a light therapy desk lamp. Place it in a location where you can easily sit and occupy yourself for an hour (like at a computer desk), notably in the early evening. Vitamin D Supplements When it isn’t always possible to get decent sunlight exposure in the winter, consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Research suggests a correlation between low vitamin D levels and SAD.
- Go for liquid sources of vitamin D as they tend to be better absorbed and thereby more effective
- Go for the D3 type as it is a natural type of vitamin D
- D2 is a synthetic type of vitamin D and is not as well-absorbed by the body
Melatonin Sound sleep is also dependant on the body’s production of melatonin, as it helps to maintain the body’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin production increases when it is dark so make sure you set up your room in full darkness free of artificial nighttime lighting (alarm clocks, night lights). If you wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink or go to the bathroom, keep the lighting dim. Melatonin-boosting foods include oats, corn, rice, barley, ginger, tomatoes and bananas. Adrenal Support
- Adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney and are in control of everything from sleep to appetite to mood and most importantly the body’s ability to manage stress. Increased secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands is said to contribute to SAD. Adaptogens such as siberian ginseng and rhodiola will help with adrenal support:
B-vitamins The intake of b-vitamins also helps to maintain healthy serotonin levels. If you are taking a b-complex supplement, ensure it contains all of the essential B vitamins:
- Panthothenic acid
These are just a few tips to help you naturally combat the dreary blues that accompany wintertime. Hopefully they not only allow you to beat the low moods and energies of SAD, but even enjoy your winter season.
References (2014, October 29).
Five Ways To Boost Your Melatonin. Retrieved from: http://www.jamiesonvitamins.com/BoostYourMelatonin
7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues. Retrieved from: http://draxe.com/7-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues/ Altshul, S. (2012, November 30).
Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20428713,00.html Schroffo-Cook, M. (2010, October 28).
5 Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues. Retrieved from: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-natural-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues.html