Around winter time people can experience some or all of the following - mood swings, anxiety disorders or anxiety symptoms, bouts of depression and mood swings. They may even find themselves irritable, always tired and in extra need of stress relief and even their nutrition may suffer because of this.
It may just be a case of the winter blues or as researchers have tagged it a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D for short. Seasonal Affective Disorder refers to those people who during either summer or winter find themselves consistently feeling blue, down and out or experience profound periods of sadness.
No one yet fully understands the total cause of this condition though one factor does stand out supreme for those suffering in winter – the sun or the lack of it. Shorter sunlight hours, and in the case of cloud cover, minimal sunlight, colder temperatures and a weaker sun can make the winter season miserable and seems to play a part in lowering people’s moods.
For those not suffering from S.A.D winter can just be a cold, dark time, so even if you manage to bounce your way through winter unscathed the points in this blog can still help brighten up your foray through your own personal winter wonderland.
A major factor that has been known for many years but is only now becoming widely known is that Vitamin D levels drop significantly during winter, and while it is not the ultimate cause of low mood, winter blues or winter depression it is recognised as being a contributing factor.
It is only during summer when the sun is closer to the earth that UVB rays have enough impact on uncovered skin to stimulate the mass production of Vitamin D, and a strong link between mood and Vitamin D levels exist. The buzz is that dietary sources alone are not enough to boost Vitamin D to optimum levels, so supplementing seems to be the way to go. There are other nutritional substances that can help support healthy mood during winter. 5HTP and the amino acids L-Methionine, L-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine are known to help generate healthy brain levels of the chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are responsible for elevating mood.
St John’s Wort herb, Fish Oils, Krill Oil and other oils high in essential fatty acids like Evening Primrose Oil will help the brain function at optimum levels as well.
Don’t get sick
I know, I know – this is easier said than done, though getting sick and constantly having to fend off the misery of sniffles, colds, flus and coughs makes being happy in winter a real battle. Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Zinc, Selenium, Probiotics, “PRP colostrum extract” and “Lactobacillus rhamnosus (DV strain) lysate powder” all are powerful nutrients that can help your body stave off bacterial and viral infection in winter.
Read some of our previous articles posted on the web where we go into greater detail on what is available for supporting your immune system.
There is even Ground Ivy Leaf for chest infections, coughs and general respiratory sniffles. It is suitable for under 4 year olds as well.
Check out Clinicians competition to win some Ground Ivy Leaf. http://www.clinicians.co.nz/prospan-competition/
Waking up in winter can be a challenge for those beset by the blues, and let’s face it; it’s dark and cold - hardly an inviting environment to leap forth into. Bed, warmth, snuggling, and dreams can seem a whole lot more inviting.
I can recall waking up in winter in the South Island amongst a heavy frost as a child. I would stumble out of bed to find the fire or heater going, a hot milo and the radio on. My brothers and I would crowd around the source of heat, sip our milos and listen to the burble of the radio and soon be awake. While this is not practical, the essence here is to feel like you waking up in a house already active rather than one that is waiting for you to wake it.
Here are some ideas: Put a coffee pot on a timer to start heating ten minutes prior to waking. Set a small heater on timer, and have a bedside lamp that you can flick on or even put it on a timer as well.
Get an alarm that plays music or a radio station rather than a rude jading alarm sound. I have my iPhone alarm set to play “Winter Light” by “Linda Ronstadt.” It’s the end tune from the 1993 movie “The Secret Garden.” I love it. It has lilting uplifting tones that invite me back into this world rather than drag from my deep slumber.
Use Bright Colours
Bright colours brighten up the day. Ever noticed the plethora of greys, browns, blacks and in general darker colours that people wear during winter? It’s almost like the weather affects people’s choices and subconsciously they reach for something in tune with the elements. Bright dispels dark. Think about it. How do you feel when walking into florist’s store? Or have you ever been lucky enough to wander through a meadow of wild flowers? A number of years ago I sat on the edge of late summer paddock sprawling with wild rampant Penny Royal. A sea of purple spread out in front of me interspersed with yellow patches of some sort of daisy. Even now I can recall how I felt – euphoric, elevated, and very free.
There are many ways to add zesty colour to your surrounds in winter. Picked flowers, even fake ones, can brighten up enclosed spaces. Accessorise with scarves, hats, gloves. Be daring and purchase a boldly coloured warm accoutrement. If anything it will start conversations (which will lead into the point below about relationships). If you use a computer, search the internet for a high resolution picture of something colourful that evokes uplifting feelings in you. It can be a painting, a zany image, a shot of summer flowers, a wild wind sweep scene – just something that when you look at it, it boosts how you feel.
Some years back I was given a very garish and starkly bright yellow and red “Cat in the Hat” devut cover that I really did not want to use but was obliged to use. As strange as it sounds it actually changed the way I felt about lying in my bed. It’s hard to describe but the brightness and themic call to mischief made me happier. I guess when horizontally vulnerable hovering between conscious worlds it is easier to be open to such a subtle influence.
Despite the cold consume raw salads.
Raw fruit and vegetables are the power house of your digestion, and the major seat of your immune system sits in your gut. There your friendly bowel bacteria perform numerous tasks necessary to your health, one of which is to keep your immune system working at optimum.
However they are easily overwhelmed by excessive quantities of food, food that is highly processed, low fibre – high fat – simple carbohydrate food – or to put it in layman’s term – stodge.
Google winter warming salads for some ideas on how to make salads during winter that can boost your immune strength. Lack of warmth is one factor that negatively affects your immune response. Foods that contribute to your inner warmth help stave off cold induced infections.
Invest in your relationships around you
Winter traditionally was the time when you ate through your summer store and preserves, and burnt through the wood that you had stored up for the cold weather. And then you spent time with each other – as there was not much else to do. Now before you ask me how I know this(I grew up with a telly), my Aunts, Great Aunts and other living relatives born before the turn of the 20th century, years ago detailed to me what they used to get up to during the winter months. In short it mostly involved interacting with one another.
Let’s face it – while it may be too cold to venture out for an invigorating bush walk, or to head to the beach for a jolly good game of rounders, you can visit people or have people over. Winter is the perfect time to check up on old friends. What can be more enjoyable than holding a bowl of brothy soup in a cosy cafe catching up and sharing what’s been happening for you and them.
Talking is still a great remedy for those feeling down. The human spirit hates isolation which strangely is a natural response to feeling low, but just exchanging words, stories, points of view all help to raise the human spirit and elevate mood.
Use these six tips to help your winter trundled along better. Let me know how you get on. I would love to hear what others do to keep themselves buoyant throughout the winter months.