What’s the Deal with Winter Blues? 3 Solutions.
The lack of sunshine and shorter days take a toll on so many of us.
My patients in the dark of winter suffer more with depression, they are more tired, their PMS is worse. In addition, I see more issues with sleep, with unwanted weight gain, with stress. And as you know if you’ve been reading my emails or work, I hold that increased stress will make most of our health conditions worse, even those that don’t have a direct association.
And it’s not just the Pacific Northwest where we see the profound effect of shorter, darker days. When I practiced in the Northeast I saw it all the time, Even people who live in sunnier climates can feel the effects. Here is another post that talks a little bit about why are prone to feel down in the winter months.
Does this mean that the lion’s share of people have a diagnosis of SAD, or seasonal effective disorder? No, of course not. But there are things that all of us can do to feel better during this time of year.
Implement these simple things to lift your spirits and energy this season.
1. Be attentive to your circadian rhythm.
Remember that our brains are set up to function before we had artificial light. Even more so before we had blue spectrum light via our smart phones, tablets, computer screens and televisions. This is important because our normal circadian rhythms are altered by artificial light affecting everything from your sleep to your metabolism, energy, immune function, and mood. If you start to turn the lights down in your home early in the evening when it gets dark and you make sure to turn bright lights on first thing that will help your body stay in a good rhythm.
In the winter it’s even more important to get yourself to bed at a decent hour so you line up your own rhythms with the natural cycle of light and dark.
2. Move it!
Exercise is so important for keeping your mood and health in good order all the time but particularly in winter. We are so geared to want to curl up in the colder weather, and stay in bed just a teensy tiny bit longer that exercise is often one of the first things to go. Make a plan for how you’re going to get your body moving in the winter. If you usually get out for walks for your exercise and the weather keeps you indoors, have a plan B!
I love the treadmill I installed under my desk at home (I use an up/down riser for my computer and the treadmill is pretty lightweight and can be stored against the wall if you don’t want to use it.) I work several days a week from home and this has been a complete and utter game changer as far as my experience of the winter blues!
And if you don’t have room for that? I also have a mini elliptical trainer that I used on the regular before I got the treadmill. Now I use that one when I’m watching TV or a movie and want to make sure I’m not on my butt for too long.
3. Get outside.
About 5 years ago I was working with a yoga teacher on a shoulder injury and the topic of my irritable mood came up (it’s amazing what comes up when you’re doing yoga!) She made me promise to “get my face in nature” every day, no matter what. She preferred a walk but even if not, to stand outside for 10 minutes, rain or shine. Our bodies are meant to be in the elements, even if it’s cold out.
Do you suffer at all in these shorter days? If so, check out my free 7-day Energy Infusion. One tip a day for 7 days including more ideas about how to implement a few of the tips above. 🙂
Yours in Health,