Everyone gets the blues. But the winter season can be especially difficult for many people. Even those who normally dont experience feeling down or “blue” can be affected during winter in the Pacific Northwest. Bastyr University faculty member Paul Anderson, ND, shares some simple things you can do to beat the blues and help maintain your good mood during this part of the year.
Improve Your Diet: During the winter, well-chosen nutrients, including protein, B vitamins and minerals, add to the brains natural ability to resist depression. Protein intake is key for two reasons: blood-sugar control and amino-acid maintenance. First, regular portions of protein in the diet help keep your blood sugar steady, which is key to reducing mood swings. Second, the brain runs largely on amino acids from dietary proteins. A regular and balanced supply of amino acids keeps the brain from getting “low” on this essential component. Additionally, the brain requires many B vitamins and minerals to function correctly. During times of increased stress and lower levels of sunlight, these nutrients are crucial. Dark green leafy vegetables and whole grains are excellent dietary sources of these the minerals and B vitamins. A good multivitamin/mineral may also help fill dietary gaps.
Remember Vitamin D: Vitamin D is crucial for many brain and body operations. A chemical reaction that begins in sun-exposed skin cells produces vitamin D. Since winter is a time of grey skies and little sunshine, its a good time to have your vitamin D-level checked. If low, your physician may advise a supplement.
Get Moving: During winter we are less likely to exercise or move around, but physical activity helps with improving mood. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. The more you exercise, the better you feel, so do what you can to keep moving. Use the stairs, walk, stretch, join a yoga class or participate in another physical exercise.
Try Talking: Resist the urge to bottle your emotions when you are feeling down. Talk to close friends and get others perspectives on your concerns. Sharing with others can improve your understanding of issues you face.
Take care of yourself during the winter! If you still feel like you cannot beat the blues, see a naturopathic physician an integrated preventive approach will likely help with many mood issues.