It can often be hard to keep our mood and energy up during the winter months, and some of us may even begin to be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression typically experienced or worsened by the winter season. Whether or not we become depressed, I’m sure we can all agree to an increased feeling of sluggishness and a decrease in energy, mood, or even the desire to go out and enjoy ourselves at the end of the day. What causes this? Light, or more appropriately the lack of light. The sun setting each night and rising each morning is the cue our body needs to fall asleep and wake up, so if it is still dark on our drive to work and again on the drive home our body is receiving a visual cue that it should in fact still be asleep – hence the fatigue. So what can you do to give yourself a bit of a boost and stave off the winter blues?
- Turn the lights on first thing when you wake up, don’t walk around getting dressed in the dark. Alternatively, turn the lights down using a dimmer or lamps/candles in the late evening when you are getting ready for bed
- Avoid screens 30minutes – 1 hour before bed. The light reaches our eye and shuts off our brains ability to make the hormone it requires to fall asleep.
- Supplement with Vitamin D to support our mental and immune health during the season. Where we live, the rays from the sun that tell our body to produce this Vitamin aren’t even reaching the earth’s surface. This vitamin sticks around in our fat cells and can cause problems if we’re taking too much, so ask a health care provider if you are interested.
- Eat brain healthy foods like nuts and seeds, leafy greens, eggs, and fish. The Environmental Working Group recommends the following fish that are high in healthy fats but low in mercury: anchovies, herring, salmon, sardines, shad, and trout.
- Try to keep active as much as possible and pursue activities that you enjoy throughout the winter months! This is a hard one for a lot of people when the motivation to get outside and see people is low, which makes it all the more important.
This article is written for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice provided by your doctor.
Written by Dr. Kristen Harpell, ND., firstname.lastname@example.org
High Point Wellness Centre, Mississauga ON