Winter can be long in Wisconsin, depressingly long. Some of us embrace the cold more than others, but one aspect you cannot deny is that the long, bitterly cold, dark, winters, can get downright depressing. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD comes when we set the clocks back, the sun goes down at 4PM, and the sky is typically overcast all day.
Common signs of SAD include the following:
- Extra tired throughout the day
- Lowered motivation
- Increased junk food cravings
- Low energy
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
If you think you may be suffering from SAD, here are some tips to help you shake the winter blues.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked.
You can get your Vitamin D levels checked as easily as any other blood test at your primary care physician. Vitamin D is produced within our bodies – when our skin is exposed to sunlight. There isn’t a whole lot of sunlight exposure in northern latitudes, and thus an increased risk for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to SAD, lowered immune function, diabetes, and even increased chances of some cancers. If you show a deficiency, Vitamin D3 supplements between 2000 and 5000 International Units (IU’s) are your best option for improving your levels.
Exercise is one of the most potent anti-depressants on the market…and it’s free! Exercise can help improve mood in a number of ways. By getting your blood flowing and muscles pumping, you can increase your “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. Also, when we exercise (and eat right), we lose fat and gain muscle – and when we look better, we feel better! Try tracking different exercise goals besides weight – mile run time, number of pushup’s, etc. By breaking these goals, you will feel accomplished and proud of yourself!
- Fuel Your Body With High Quality Foods
Eat greasy, fatty, artificial foods – and you feel greasy, fatty, and sluggish. Take care of what you put in your body. After all, this can have a huge effect on your mood. Try increasing your Omega-3 intakes with salmon, flax seed, and walnuts. Studies have shown a link between these healthy fats and those feel good chemicals in the brain. Eating more colorful fruits and vegetables all winter long can give your mood a huge boost. The more color, the more anti-oxidants and brain boosting nutrients! Broccoli, berries, spinach, and Brussels sprouts are a few of my favorites.
There are many ways you can beat the winter blues, and these are just three of my favorites and most cost effective ways to do so. Just because old man winter is here, doesn’t mean you have to put up with his seasonal grumpiness!