February is the shortest month of the year. Yet, in Ontario, it often feels like it drags on forever.
For most people, by February the magic of winter has worn away, we begin to feel a bit blue, and we start to really long for the sun.
But, there are a few simple, “sunny” solutions to help bust through those winter blues!
1. Get Outside During Daylight Hours, Everyday
Sunlight is good for our brains, helps boost our mood, and regulates our circadian rhythm. As early in the day as you can, expose yourself to sunlight — even if that’s simply throwing open your curtains when you wake for the day. Even better yet, spend time outdoors during daylight hours, everyday. Just 20 minutes of daylight has quantifiable benefits. Although we won’t be manufacturing much Vitamin D given the layers we’re bundled in and the angle of the sun, you’ll reap the other benefits of exposure to daylight!
2. Check Your Vitamin D Status, and Take A Quality Supplement
It is my opinion that OHIP should cover Vitamin D blood testing once a year for every person in the province. Clinically low levels of Vitamin D happen often in our population, and below optimal levels of Vitamin D are even more common. Checking your Vitamin D levels, and having them interpreted by a professional (like a Naturopathic Doctor) at least once per year is a great place to start when it comes to maintaining overall health, a stable mood, and immune function!
Nearly all Ontarians require supplementation of at least 1000IU per day to maintain adequate blood levels of this critical nutrient. However, many Ontarians need up to 10,000IU per day to keep their blood levels in an optimal range. So, supplementing with a quality product, is a great place to start — but is even more effective if you’re following up with routine blood work!
3. Use Full-Spectrum Lighting When Indoors During The Day
Full-spectrum lighting can be a helpful solution for those of us stuck indoors with no access to the sun during most (or all) daylight hours. There are desktop lamps available that emit strong, full-spectrum light which may help moderate our circadian rhythm and boost moods. Of course, getting outdoors is still the best option, if possible.
The “winter blues”, or the more serious “Seasonal Affective Disorder” can significantly impact mental and physical well-being during winter months. If you’re feeling a bit down, consider incorporating these simple strategies into your day to beat the winter blues!
Have you experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the “winter blues”? If you found a solution that worked for you, let us know in the comments below!