Are you feeling tired, sluggish, irritable or down in the dumps? Well you’re not alone. Around this time of year, many of us start to feel our mood sinking. It is estimated that nearly 15% of Canadians will experience a form of seasonal depression commonly referred to as the “winter blues”.
Here are 5 simple tips to beat the winter blues and boost your emotional well-being:
1. Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in the production of two mood-regulating chemicals known as dopamine and serotonin. In the winter with much less available sunlight (which is the primary source of vitamin D production), our levels tend to take a nosedive. Keep your vitamin D up to par with a few simple strategies:
Take advantage of sunny days by spending time outside or near a window.
Include more vitamin D rich foods in your diet such as eggs, fatty fish, liver and leafy greens.
Ask your Naturopathic doctor to check your blood vitamin D level and supplement as advised based on your individual results
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
The quality and types of foods you consume has a great affect on your mood and energy. Avoid refined and processed foods such as white flours, breads and sugar. These foods are not only missing the nutrients your body requires, but hey will also affect your mood and energy by taking your blood sugar on a roller coaster. Swap out the refined grains and sugars for more complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat breads, brown rice, veggies and fruit.
While you might be craving the comfort of junk food such as pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese during the colder months, stuffing yourself with sugar and refined flours will only make you feel worse.
3. Ramp up your Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Foods like walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, wild salmon, sardines and anchovies are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids. Besides helping to reduce inflammation, these important nutrients also benefit moods and reduce the risk of depression.
4. Treat Yourself
Winter can often seem endless, but having something to look forward to can keep you feeling positive and motivated. Winter seems endless! Plan something exciting for yourself such as a vacation, weekend trip, massage, spa-day, party or even night out with the girls/guys. Your mood improves when you’re anticipating it and when the event actually comes, but don’t forget to keep #2 in mind!
5. Keep your New Year’s Resolutions
If your resolution was to improve your health and kick a bad habit or two, don’t forget to act on it. A recent study from the CDC showed a strong link between health habits and the incidence of depression. Those who exhibited healthy behaviors (didn’t smoke, exercised regularly and consumed healthy food) had less sad days compared to those whose behaviors were less than healthy.