SAD: Natural Mood Boosters
Dark, grey weather can often contribute to a case of the blues. For some, it can be serious SAD – seasonal affective disorder. I eventually adapted to the dull, rainy winters on the west coast, but for this prairie girl, it took some time to get used to the reduced hours of sunshine in the winter months.
Ideally, to beat the winter blues, we’d all escape to a tropical climate, but when we can’t, here are 3 strategies that can help lift spirits:
Strategy 1: Eat Regularly
More than 3 to 4 hours between meals and snacks can result in irritability, fatigue, dizziness and clammy skin. Pack an extra snack with lunch to keep blood glucose steady throughout the day. Fruit, cheese and fibre-rich crackers, or veggies and dip work well. Avoid the temptation of high sugar/carbohydrate vending machine goodies like cookies, chips and candy. The energy they provide won’t be long- lasting.
Strategy 2: Make up for the lack of sunshine
Vitamin D is one of the nutrients closely related to mood, in addition to its role in bone and immune system health. Our bodies build vitamin D when we have enough sun exposure, but Canadian winters do not provide enough. Make up the difference by eating vitamin D-rich foods such as milk, fortified soy beverages, eggs and fish. All adults age 50 and older should take a daily supplement of 400 IU vitamin D.
Strategy 3: Fight Brain Drain
If regularly drained despite getting enough sleep you may need to check for anemia. Anemia is most commonly due to a lack of iron (found in red meat and whole grains, for example), but can also be linked to low folate or vitamin B12. Excellent sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, mushrooms and citrus fruits. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products- meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, and to some extent in legumes. Ensure you get enough of these 3 energizing nutrients.
Staying physically active is also a vital part of fighting the blues. Let me know what you do to stay upbeat when the weather tries to bring you down. At this time of year, the more ideas the better!
Take good care.