Beating the Winter Blues
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
For many of us who revel in the sunshine and warmth of summer the advent of winter and colder weather is a daunting prospect. Whether it is that you just feel a little blah, are lacking in energy, or are outright depressed and suffering from S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder), there are plenty of things that can be done to alleviate those feelings.
First of all, we have to look at what might be different about the winter and the summer. We are more cooped up indoors during the winter. We are exposed to fewer hours of daylight and, particularly in Minnesota and the rest of the North Country, we may go to work when it is still dark and may also get home after the sun sets. We may also be less active overall because we are not playing outdoors.
The first tip for beating the winter blues is to find ways to enjoy the out-of-doors, even if it is freakin’ cold. My Norwegian relatives have said, and it is a Norwegian refrain, that “There is no such thing as bad weather; there is only bad clothing”. I tend to agree and know that if you are properly equipped, you can go out on most days and enjoy the special charm of a crisp winter day. As an example, last year my loving family bought me a pair of Steger Arctic Mukluks for my perennially cold and frost-bitten feet. I made a habit of going out in the frozen marsh behind my house and walking through the snow, even when it was -30F. You don’t have to be so aggressive. Make a point of spending a little time outside every day.
Humans are designed to ebb and flow with the seasons. It is natural for us to sleep more in the winter and less in the summer. After all summer was the time when we had to “make hay while the sun shines”. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep during the winter months as doing so is more in concert with natural rhythms. Sun exposure has many positive effects on our physiology. One such effect is that being out in the sun causes us to produce vitamin D which has a significant impact on depression. There are also other positive effects on brain chemistry that derive from sun exposure. One way to obtain some of those effects, even though it is not as good as going to Florida, Arizona, or Hawaii, is to use a full-spectrum light. Using the light for 10-15 minutes in the morning and in the evening can significantly reduce the winter blues. Along similar lines, it is a good idea to supplement with 5000 IU of vitamin D3 every day.
Vigorous physical activity is also an incredible antidote to the winter blues. Get out and run, ski, snowshoe, skate or do aerobic exercise indoors. Things like cycling, running on a treadmill, or using a rowing machine can provide all the endorphins you need to combat the blues. In addition, doing high intensity interval training (HIIT), lifting weights, doing yoga, practicing pilates, or dance can add even more spice to your winter days. There is no question that vigorous physical exercise creates positive changes in brain chemistry and will cause you to produce more serotonin and melatonin.
Lastly, and if at all possible, it is nice to punctuate the long winter months with a little vacation in the sun. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or even very long, but a few days in the sun can be a great tonic and can allow you to recharge and tolerate the lengthy winters in Minnesota. The message here is that even though we live in a cold climate, there is plenty that you can do to find enjoyment and live healthier and happier in the winter. Splurge on it!
Keep your body operating efficiently while staying active this winter. Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Chiropractic Health and Wellness to see how chiropractic care can help prevent sports related injuries or help you recover from neck and back pain.