As we near the start of winter and work through the shortest, dark days of the year, it’s important to monitor how this affects your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In the winter months, it’s easier to get socially isolated, which strongly affects our mood, and some people are especially sensitive to the limited daylight exposure and suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are five things you can do to keep your resiliency up through the season.
1. Get socially connected
This will be our second pandemic winter and the effects of prolonged social distancing on mood can’t be understated. Connecting with others in a safe way is very important.
● Make it a priority to get out and see people. Make an effort to set up visiting date times and when Covid safety is a concern, meet outdoors, wear a mask, or visit with them virtually
● Create a new social obligation for yourself, for example, start up a weekly class of anything that peaks your interest – art, fitness, education, etc. Many classes have an online option when needed
● Increase your volunteerism; it helps combat feelings of isolation
2. Prioritize outdoor time
● As often as possible, try to get 30 minutes exposure to daylight (not through windows)
● You can combine this with walking outdoors to get some exercise
3. Stick to routine
When our bodies fall out of routine, our internal systems (digestive system, nervous system, endocrine system, etc.) can become disregulated, making us feel worse. Sticking to a routine can be very helpful to keep our mental and physical health at its best.
● Give yourself an 8-hour sleep opportunity nightly, minimize exposure to screens just before bed to help boost natural melatonin production
● Keep bedtime and wake up times as consistent as possible
● Stay consistent with your eating schedule on weekends
● Regular exercise boosts your mood, and you’ll pump extra oxygen to your brain, which can help you feel more alert
4. Consider supplements in your diet, particularly Vitamin D
As our exposure to sunlight dwindles in the winter, our stores of vitamin D naturally decrease, and if your diet is low in Vitamin D, you’ll likely benefit from some supplementation.
● To combat SAD, research shows Vit D3 (the type that your body naturally produces through your skin) is favoured over D2 for helpfulness
● If you are unsure about your diet and need for supplementation, consider consulting with a dietician or naturopath
5. Yoga and meditation
● Yoga promotes circulation, strength, and flexibility, and can help combat pain and lethargy
● Classes promote social connection to others in group settings
● Certain meditations, such as gratitude or loving kindness meditations, encourage the feeling of connectedness with others and help the release of the “feel good” hormones in the body – dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Try this Loving Kindness Meditation: Loving Kindness Mediation – YouTube