Do you tend to get the winter blues? Are you sluggish, have no energy, or sink into a funk? You may gain a few pounds. Your immune system seems to have gone on strike, and you catch every little bug. If you get the flu, it’s even worse, and can take weeks and weeks to get over it. Here are three strategies to beat the winter blues. One is the sunlight vitamin, vitamin D. The second is light, using a bright indoor light. The third is movement, get outside or get to the gym.
When sunlight strikes our skin, the body produces vitamin D. Even if you get out in the winter, we are too far north to get enough sunlight-generated vitamin D. Vitamin D is really a hormone, not just for your bones. If you ache more in the winter, it could be a sign that your vitamin D levels are too low. Your immune system depends on adequate vitamin D; if you are getting every bug, think about adding vitamin D.
Who is prone to vitamin D deficiency? Adults over 50; overweight people; folks with intestinal issues who can’t properly absorb Vitamin D. Additionally, if you have a darker complexion, you can’t produce enough vitamin D in your skin.
Take extra vitamin D3, at least through the cooler, darker months. A simple basic dosage is 2000 mg per day. You can get a vitamin D level blood test, and if your levels are lower than optimal, you probably need a higher dose.
The second issue is also related to light. It goes by the acronym, SAD, meaning Seasonal Affective Disorder. Certain brain hormones are activated directly by light. The main symptom is seasonal depression, just feeling blue and low, that kicks in as the natural light dims in the fall. It is useful to get out more, especially in the middle of the sunny days. But, winter days are short, and often gray. One simple solution; get a light box, and use it. A light box is a bright light that reproduces the spectrum of light that comes from the sun. A light box is a simple, relatively cheap solution, which can totally change your experience of the winter.
The third solution to the winter blues is to move more. If you find yourself gaining weight, and feeling sluggish in the winter find your winter exercise. Do something; join a gym, start consistently going to your favorite fitness classes, and/or take up outdoor activities. If you move, you will feel so much better. Do you know what kind of exercise works for you? If not, it’s time for some exploration. We have so many possible choices here. Tai Chi is great for balance. Weight lifting helps ward off osteoporosis. Yoga keeps you flexible and strong. The list goes on and on. There is good evidence for exercise as an antidote to depression, and as a part of the solution to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Get moving!