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Five Ways To Ward Off The Winter Blues

What you can do to boost your mood this winter…

By Karen Kwan

With dark skies greeting us in the morning and the sun setting by the time we finish our work day, winter can trigger many of us to feel blue. This low mood can also be accompanied by feeling sluggish and unmotivated – and for an estimated three per cent of the Canadian population, this can progress into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can include major depression and having no interest in activities that once brought joy. For most people, however, the winter blues and mild symptoms of SAD can be better managed by adopting a few simple lifestyle changes. 

Spend time outdoors every day

Even if it’s cloudy outside, head out to spend some time in daylight. If possible, get that natural light into your routine in the morning. As you wake up, being exposed to natural light will help you feel more awake and give you a bit of an adrenaline boost. Bundle up when you awaken and get outside with a travel mug filled with a hot beverage to enjoy as you walk around your neighbourhood for 20 minutes to start off your day.

Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins D and B12 in your diet

Our vitamin D levels tend to drop in the fall and winter thanks to the fewer number of daylight hours. Supplementing with D can help ensure your body is producing “feel-good” hormones. Vitamin B12 is also important – low levels of this B vitamin may be linked to depression. Speak to your doctor about any supplements you’re considering adding to your routine – they can do a blood test to check your levels and determine if you are indeed deficient in certain vitamins.

Find a new hobby for winter

Having a new interest to focus on and look forward to can provide a lift to your mood during these blue winter months. Is there something you’ve seen on social media that’s piqued your interest, or a skill you’ve always wanted to learn? Make the long, dark days of winter more fun by picking it up as a new craft. If it’s an outdoor activity with other people, even better – exposure to natural light and socializing can both give your mood a lift.

Embrace the concept of hygge

Incorporate the Danish custom of hygge and find pleasure in the small joys in life by making your home extra cozy. Treat yourself to that soft blanket and designer candle, for example, so that your quiet moments at home give you a great sense of comfort. Cook heartwarming meals that soothe you from the inside out. Keep your pantry stocked with your favourite tea and a great mug, and set up a library of books so you always have a great read ready.

Invest in a light therapy box

Experts recommend boxes that have an intensity of 10,000 lux, and try to position the light box so it’s shining on you from above as the sun does. You may also want to consider a dawn simulator wakeup light. These devices work by gradually brightening your bedroom so that your body is triggered to wake up more naturally…compared to being jolted awake by a blaring alarm clock.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @healthswellness and on Instagram @healthandswellness.

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