Every year the time change gets me. A dinner that goes past 7pm begins to feel like an after party; the snooze button on my alarm clock suddenly begins tempting me. My moods feel darker, more down, especially during weeks with several gloomy days.
Do these winter blues sound familiar? It’s something most of us experience, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.
For years, I’d force myself to keep up with what I perceived as my healthy and vibrant lifestyle. I’d feel “off” – and as if I must be doing something wrong – whenever this internal shift started to play out.
Culturally, there was a time when we were more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons. We’d sleep in the dark and wake in the light. We were attuned to the natural wisdom of this rhythm.
Over time we’ve done the same thing to our schedules as we’ve done to our food. In our desire to evolve (to control our environments) we’ve processed much of nature’s internal wisdom out of our lives.
Doesn’t it make sense that our internal clocks should be affected by a shift in the seasons?
In the past few years I’ve come to accept the energy of this shift. I now recognize it as the natural part of the biological cycle that it is. I do my best to embrace this time of year instead of dreading it. I consciously appreciate the darker months as a time to rest, recuperate and replenish from the frenetic pace of summer.
Rather than fighting it, I use this period as a time of reflection, to go inward and take stock of my life. I give myself permission to follow the rhythm of the seasons, and it’s had a huge positive impact on me.
I invite you to try it with me as for this last month of winter. Give yourself that same permission to listen to what your body is telling you. Hunker down by the fire, make some soup, climb into bed at 9pm if you feel like it. Kind of sounds great, doesn’t it?
Remember, as the light changes, we need to take care of ourselves differently. Sunlight is a nutrient. It makes us feel vibrant and full of life.
On a biological level, when light decreases it can have a true chemical impact on us. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real thing – it’s not “all in your head.”
As always, it’s important to pay attention to your body’s signals. Be honest with yourself and ask, “What do I need to feel like my best self?”
If you need some help beating the winter blues this season, I’m here to lend a helping hand! Below are 10 things that help me weather the gloomy months.
With love and lots of vitamin D,
10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
- Be gentle with yourself when you feel a little funky during the winter. It’s not just in your head! Try your best to allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel without judgment.
- Supplement with vitamin D3. What you get from the sun naturally during the summer months plummets when there’s no sun shining, so consider supplementing. Aim to take 1,000ml of vitamin D each morning. Our favorite liquid vitamin D is Quicksilver’s D3/K2 liquid blend”.
- Get outside in the middle of the day. The mid-day rays are most effective in transforming the body’s cholesterol into vitamin D. Take your sunglasses off and expose as much skin as you can bear. Around 15-20 minutes of sun will do the trick.
- Avoid sugary foods. We preach this year round, but it’s even more important during the winter months. Heightened blood sugar and insulin levels will make you even more lethargic. It’s 100 times harder to get out of bed in the morning when you’re eating sugary treats at night!
- Swap your standard bulbs for full spectrum lights. I have these in my office and I swear by them! Full spectrum lights, as the name implies, contain all the colors that are missing in fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. These lights closely mimic the color spectrum of natural daylight, which helps boost your mood.
- Eat your greens. Dark leafy greens (along with fruits and nuts like cashews) help increase your serotonin levels. This is also another great reason to get in on the green smoothie train!
- Make time for movement. Even when you don’t feel like it, make time to get your sweat on. When was the last time you said, “I wish I hadn’t worked out today”? By moving your body you’ll release those feel-good endorphins. Even taking a 5-10 minute walk outside will make a huge difference.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals will slow your body’s metabolism, creating a drop in serotonin levels. It will also disrupt your energy, resulting in more crashes and spikes that will make you feel tired and unmotivated. Eat when you’re hungry!
- Limit alcohol and coffee. Even though the alcohol might help you relax at night and the caffeine wakes you up in the morning, it can become a nasty energy roller coaster. No matter how healthy your relationship with them is, they can really slow you down during the winter. Replace your ritual of a drink at night with a glass of sparkling water or a cup of herbal tea. And try subbing your morning cup of coffee with a nice big cup of green tea to put a little pep in your step!
- Get your omega-3 fatty acids. Choose foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines or halibut to give yourself a boost in serotonin levels and keep inflammation low. If needed, you can also take an omega-3 supplement. We recommend taking 1,000mg of omegas per day if you need a little extra help getting them in.
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