February is often the hardest month of the year for folks to get through. It’s not uncommon for the winter blues to set in, and the desire to crawl into a hole until mid spring is strong. Sometimes this is fleeting and passes over a couple of days, and for others it settles into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that can linger for a long time, and really mess with your hormones. As a general rule of thumb, there are plenty of lifestyle modifications that we can put in place to make the mid winter months more bearable.
Create Routine + A Creative Project
Settling into a creative and lifestyle slump is pretty normal in mid winter. At the very beginning of winter (and even right in the middle of it), create a solid foundational routine every single day of things that you need to get done or want to do. Like make breakfast every morning, attend your exercise class Monday, Wednesday and Friday, call your friends or family every Saturday, set an hour aside daily to clear out your inbox, etc. In addition, winter is a time when things just generally slow down. If you can find one good creative project to continue on throughout the winter months, it keeps the joy and inspiration alive. I know many people like to write short stories in the winter, or scrapbook, or read through a trilogy or series of books, or learn to knit wool blankets, or learn calligraphy…the possibilities are endless, and winter is a perfect time to take on a creative project.
This isn’t just about preparing for the summer months, it’s about keeping your bones, muscles, lymphatic system and brain active. Your emotions are can be stored up in your body, and if you’re not processing through them efficiently or physically getting them out, they’ll pop back up at the most random times. Attending a yoga class three times a week (or every day!), going to the gym, vigorously taking the stairs, parking far away from your work building or just sweating out the day with a hot bath it remarkably helpful. I know it’s hard to get out and moving when it’s cold, so things you can do at home are squats while brushing your teeth, grabbing a heavy hula hoop and using this while watching a TV show, walking around the block with a friend or partner, and even 5 minutes of jumping jacks will seriously feel like a workout if you’re more sedentary.
Supplement with Vitamin D
It’s alarming how many of us are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is normally produced through the synthesis of sunlight and our skin and we get significantly more of it when we’re outside in the spring and summer. During the winter, however, we get very very little vitamin D, and the lack of this essential vitamin (actually more aptly considered a hormone) can cause a number of health issues like depression, weak immune function, decreased calcium absorption, weaker bones, lethargy, headaches and even disrupted sleep. Unless you have had your vitamins D levels tested and have been recommended an appropriate does to take, aim for 2,000iu daily in the winter months via capsules or soft gels supplements.
Don’t always fight against being sad. Guess what – being sad is not a bad thing. It’s not a wrong thing. It’s actually completely necessary sometimes. Our culture has sort of pathologized being sad or depressed, and yes – in excess it can get out of control, but it’s a normal, common and acceptable human emotion. I recommend that when you’re feeling your personal Eeyore rear it’s gloomy head, just allow yourself 5 or 10 minutes to just succumb to it and be fully sad. Cry about it. Embrace the emotion for a little while but set yourself a time limit on it. Set a timer, and shift your thinking after a certain amount of time. If you find that your feeling sad more often than not, and are having a hard time switching your emotions, pop in for a health coaching appointment with me and we’ll have a longer chat about. There’s are lots of ways we can work with getting through this time of year.
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com