Prevent The Winter Blues!
Some people just seem to fall into a seasonal pattern of depression. Some can suffer severe depression, but many experience 'the blues' or what the medical community might call 'subsyndromal'. This is a great term because it means there is no syndrome! And there are steps you can take to help. Many researchers believe this pattern is based on a remnant from our distant ancestors to hibernate. It was likely that for our ancestors food was scarce in the winter and it was hard to get out in the cold. So we are essentially programmed to conserve energy at this time of year. The problem is we also tend to crave sugary foods at the same time! Here are a few tips to help!
- Eat healthy food First. Our desire to hibernate plus our current availability of high calorie foods can have significant consequences to our health. Sugar, especially high fructose sugars like those in processed foods, cause blood sugar and insulin spikes that drain your energy and make you feel more tired. Then you tend to be less active. Then your blood sugar crashes and you feel hungry again. This cycle of eating is well known to lead to severe health problems in the long run like Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.(check out Dr. Robert Lustigs research). As Statistics Canada tells us, Sudbury is now the 2nd most obese city in Canada! Our pattern of winter 'hibernation' may be contributing! So always reach for good food first. If your craving sugar drink a large glass of water, eat an apple and wait 5 minutes. Don’t just spring for the junk food.
- Sleep 8 hours a night- It is ideal for our body to rise and sleep with the sun. This maximizes the amount of sunlight we see and helps us feel better over the shortened winter days. Researchers have found a strong relationship between some mood disorders and the lower sun exposure in the winter. Technology also doesn't help. Laying around watching TV, especially in the evening, wakes up our brain and prevents proper sleep patterns. TV, computers and tablets don't give us light like the sun. Bright light like this can worsen the 'winter blues' by interrupting our proper sleep pattern. Sleep hygiene is essential! It's much better to stretch or do yoga after super to relieve tension, then try reading a book before bed. Don't stare at the TV or the bright light of your tablet or phone, especially before bed. If you’re already having sleep problems then shut them off earlier. Some people will then even try supplements like melatonin to help sleep patterns.
- Get as much sunlight and exercise as you can. Exercising in bright light, like a walk on a bright winter day, may be just what the doctor ordered! There is a great study showing how this can help our mood and prevent depression in the journal BMC Psychiatry. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15306031) Our body requires exercise to be healthy; 30-60 minutes on most days of the week and doing it outside in the sun can help get us out of hibernation mode. Get a partner to go with to keep you motivated, or try a social sport or activity group. Whatever it takes to get you moving! The time invested will pay off in better health!
- See your chiropractor! We can order the best quality supplements (like those from Douglas Labs and Pure, a world renowned company for quality. These companies provide their supplements exclusively through health care professionals like Chiropractors. Something as simple as adding some vitamin D may help with energy and immune function. We definitely don't get enough vitamin D from the sun this time of year!
And don't forget to get your Chiropractic Adjustments! Simple aches and pains, or even the imbalances you can't feel can cost you energy and make you feel sluggish. This makes you less likely to get active and keep healthy! A recent article published in the journal Experimental Brain Research also found Chiropractic care decreases fatigue and increases muscle firing; just what we need to get moving! So, don't let yourself fall into the winter blues! The answer is in your hands! (and mine!)
Leppämäki, S.; Partonen, T.; Lönnqvist, J. (2002). "Bright-light exposure combined with physical exercise elevates mood". Journal of affective disorders 72 (2): 139–144