Seven effective ways to beat the winter blues naturally
From dark mornings and evenings to plummeting temperatures, there’s no denying that winter is here. Unfortunately, so are the winter blues. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as many as 35 per cent of Canadians report feeling the winter blues with another 10 to 15 per cent experiencing a mild form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Symptoms of SAD include feelings of hopelessness, sluggishness, insomnia, changes in appetite and extreme fatigue. Even if your symptoms are milder than these, it’s important to not ignore your winter sadness and seek help if your condition worsens.
Luckily, there are ways to fight the winter blues without having to turn to prescription medication. Give these effective, natural solutions a try if you’re feeling down, lethargic, or low energy.
1) Get out and play
Decreased sunlight during the winter months disturbs your body’s circadian rhythms, which reduces serotonin and vitamin D levels. This can cause a negative impact on your mood and energy levels. To combat this, get outside and enjoy natural daylight as much as possible. If you have time, go for a walk in the morning or during your lunch break.
Exercising for at least 20 minutes four times a week has also shown to improve depression. From skiing and ice skating to snowshoeing and having a snowball fight, there are plenty of fun ways to stay active this season.
2) Use a light therapy box
Consider using a light therapy box if you’re schedule doesn’t allow you to get outside during the day or if you’re experiencing severe winter blues. Light boxes emit bright light that’s much stronger than your home’s ordinary light bulbs. Sitting in front of one for 30 minutes to an hour each day can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, therefore naturally releasing the hormones that helps you feel energized.
3) Host a party
It’s been proven that socializing and spending time with loved ones can work wonders for your mental health. During this holiday season, make an effort to see the people you care about most. An excellent way to do this is to host an event. Whether it’s a board game night, wine and cheese tasting, or holiday party, organizing an event will give you something to look forward to and provide a chance to connect with friends and family.
4) Go on vacation (or just plan one)
Are you daydreaming about sunshine, white sand beaches, and piña coladas? If you are, why not book a vacation and take that much needed break? Even if you can’t go on holiday due to budget or work constraints, research has shown just the act of planning a trip causes an increase in happiness. It doesn’t have to be an all-inclusive vacation either. You’ll still reap the rewards when planning a staycation or short weekend getaway.
5) Load up on vitamin D and omega-3
Take vitamin D and omega-3 supplements regularly. Vitamin D is vital for your health as it boosts the immune system, maintains blood sugar levels, and regulates mood. Unfortunately, one of the biggest natural sources of vitamin D is sunlight, leaving you at risk of vitamin D deficiency during the winter months. Omega-3 is also important as it produces an antidepressant effect by improving brain and blood cell function.
Ongoing research has suggested that meditating regularly can help change the way your brain responds to stress, anxiety, and depression. If you’ve never tried meditation before, download the Headspace app for a free 10-day beginner’s course or join a guided meditation class in your neighbourhood.
7) See an Acupuncturist
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat depression. By placing ultra-fine needles in various areas of your body, acupuncture releases endorphins and jumpstarts your brain’s production of serotonin. This naturally enhances your mood without risking the side effects that come with prescription medications.
Ready to restore your wellbeing naturally or just curious as to how acupuncture can help you? Take the first step by coming in for a FREE, no-obligation Discovery Visit. Discovery Visits are 15 minutes long and give you the opportunity to discuss your health concerns, ask questions, and go over treatment options with our Registered Acupuncturists.