Overall, it seems that Winter is the hardest season for those with a tendency or history with depression. It affects happy people too! I know this from personal experience as I've had to pull myself out of a mental funk for at least a decade. Keeping your sanity is always important, but the tasks seems more important during the cold months. The lack of bright light, the cold temperatures and the influence of family members that may or may not be your favorite. It's no wonder why movie theaters and other distractions see an increase this time of the year.
The cold months don't have to be so bad. Winter is naturally a time of retraction and slowing down. It's a time for rest, recovery and renewal. It's a time where progress can still happen, but it's usually done internally with a heavy dose of personal reflection.
Winter is often the time where people complain of the most weight gain. Although, if you eat seasonally, you should be the leanest in the winter due to the minimal amount of available carbohydrate. Meats and other fats would be your primary source of fuel while leafy greens, rice and other seasonal staples would not have been possible without modern food transportation.
All of the puzzle pieces to maintain your health and happiness seem to fall to the wayside during the winter months. The holidays, going out to eat, the family immersion and sweet tooth's that try to force feed you cookies, it all adds up to a potential health disruption.
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As someone who has lived in the Midwest where weather can change any second, you must adapt and overcome the dark skies and cold weather to maintain your health and happiness throughout the seasons.
- Get 20 minutes of sun or outdoor bright light per day. Vitamin D synthesis requires direct sun-to-skin contact which can become sufficient in 15-20 minutes. I recommend focusing on your breathing with music or the sounds of nature with your face and bare skin pointed in the direction of the sun.
- Do your work or chores near a window. The eyes require bright light exposure to properly regulate the circadian rhythm. Lethargy is a common symptom of not getting enough bright light. With the shorter days and longer nights, it's easy to become lazy and unmotivated towards your workout schedule or even daily chores. However, you'll notice a significant energy shift if you are exposing yourself to more lights, most importantly sunlight and full-spectrum lights. Standard household lights such as fluorescent or incandescent will not be therapeutic. I personally use a full-spectrum light box, which is usually suggested by your holistic doctor for treating seasonal fatigue and depression.
- Continue some sort of exercise routine, even walking. Winter is actually a more active time for me at the gym because of the lack of daylight. I'd rather be in the gym prepping my body for the extremely active spring and summer than get lazy and unmotivated. The summer will catch up to you fast and you will not be happy with the way you look if you don't stay active. Static stretches have gotten a bad rep lately. Try jumping jacks, pushups and a short jog in place to warm-up.
- Keep in touch with your friends and family. Even though you may just want to crawl into your bed and hide until summer comes back around. It’s easy to become a hermit and separate yourself from the winter time. Holiday season freaks some people out because they have family issues or just don’t enjoy it. It’s essential to surround yourself with positive people. Tensions can rise causing irritability and moodiness while being bundled up and pent up in a house together. Let love overpower the negativity.
- Take warm epsom salt baths baths. Do this especially when you are stressed, anxious, sore, tired or happy. This can prevent a cold or soreness from escalating, especially when you add a couple drops of essential oils. This will have a more notable effect for people that are suffering from joint or muscle pain and soreness, headaches, fibromyalgia or almost physical or mental pain. Take a bath about 60 minutes before sleeping to make sure you have time to calm down. Wonder if the healing power of baths were known by the kings and higher powers in the 1600’s that posed with their massive elegant bath tubs?
Relax, take a bath, exercise inside or outside, get sunlight as much as possible and be loving and positive to everyone around you. The amount of positive thoughts and words you put out, will directly correlate to the amount that come in.
Building up a shield and dealing with negative stressors in your life is incredibly important; especially people who are not in tune with their mind and body.
Hang tight, Winter will pass and make way for the Spring, then on to the shining of the Summer rays.
What's your secrets for keeping your sanity in the Winter? Comment below!