Welcome 2021! With a new year comes new expectations, new hopes and new dreams. Especially given the tumultuous atmosphere we went through in 2020, many of us may be cautiously stepping into 2021 with anxious hearts and minds. We are also about 2 weeks past the first day of winter, and with no major holidays to look forward to, we may be feeling a little bit of the winter blues.
Firstly, I need to differentiate between the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder. The difference between the two primarily lies in degree of severity.
- Some sadness between the fall and winter months
- Lack of motivation
- Possible trouble sleeping
Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Severe sadness during the fall and winter months
- Frequent sleep and motivation issues
- Sadness that limits your ability to function normally
- Loss of interest
- Cravings for unhealthy foods, leading to seasonal weight gain
It will only be through a bit of self reflection where you will be able to determine which category you fall under. Remember to be honest when assessing your symptoms and severity. You owe it to yourself and to your body, mind and spirit.
Time for High Quality Food
I know the wintertime has a consistent reputation for the consumption of bad foods. This is the time where we want hearty, filing meals. However, if you have the winter blues, this is a great time to maximize your nutrition in whatever way possible. Consume three meals a day balanced in healthy macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs), and make them as clean and colorful as possible. Consider eating plenty of citrus, fish and leafy green vegetables to help maximize nutrient absorption Eating balanced meals will also help prevent cravings for high calorie carbs and sugar.
Seek out the Sun
Maximize sun exposure when the sun is actually out to play. Consider adding a lunchtime walk to ensure that your beautiful face sees the sun. Being in the sunlight helps to balance serotonin levels, increases the production of melatonin, increase vitamin D levels and balance your circadian rhythm. I am a huge fan.
Continue with Physical Activity
You might not feel like moving your precious body at all. You might just want to snuggle up under a mountain of blankets and watch Netflix all day. However, physical movement is crucial for so many reasons. Physical activity increases endorphins, reduces stress and improves mood. This could be the perfect time to seek out an outdoor activity (see tip above) like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or simply bundling up for hour-long winter walks. Make this a priority.
Consider a Sunbox
Sunboxes are one of my favourite hacks for the winter months. These boxes use special florescent tubes that mimic the suns natural rays. Timing is important with these – try to use your sunbox first thing in the morning. These are often easy to move around from room to room – try having your balanced breakfast with the sunbox on the table.
Let the Light In
This may seem like a silly tip, but make sure your windows aren’t always covered in the winter months. Open the blinds, draw the curtains, and let as much light into your space to capitalize on the sunlight that we have. Maybe, just maybe, it will help you cultivate an appreciation for the beauty and stillness of this sacred time.
*A special note: The winter blues can take a toll on your physical and mental health. If lifestyle shifts like those listed above are not providing any relief, please schedule an appointment with your MD or mental health expert to help you. We have an excellent psychology and counselling team at Naturmend. Help is available. Please reach out.
As your Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant at Naturmend, I am committed to creating healthy communities. I believe in honouring the unique biochemical individuality of each person who walks through my door and in the amazing benefits of a whole food diet. A healthy body and balanced mind are the cornerstones of a happy existence.