Are you tired of this cold and gloomy winter weather? Many of us are frustrated, tired, experiencing more colds and illness, and even a bit depressed. You are not alone in this! These symptoms are more common this time of year; however, there are many easy, natural, common sense solutions.
While spring is just around the corner here in the U.S., we still have several more weeks of winter to contend with. You don’t have to continue to deal with these symptoms of what is often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Here are some great tips and healthy habits to maintain vibrant health and a great mood all winter long!
Defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder
An Antioxidant-Rich Diet
During the colder winter months, we often turn to more comfort foods. Too often these foods are loaded with unhealthy fats and too little nutrients. A lack of antioxidants in your diet – anytime of year – will result in more colds, flu, illness and depression. Here are some ways to increase the antioxidant power of your winter diet:
- Add these health promoting, antioxidant boosting herbs and spices to any of your favorite soups, chowders or salads.
- Drink more herbal tea, green tea, turmeric tea
- Eat more vegetable soup with brightly colored (antioxidant-rich) vegetables in place of potato or cream based soups.
- If you like it spicy, be sure to add more peppers (any kind) to your recipes. They contain many antioxidants. Peppers also contain many phytonutrients, like the potent anti-inflammatory capsaicin, that stimulate the immune system.
High Intensity Exercise
Our exercise routine also tends to falls apart in the cold, winter months. However, exercise is extremely effective for maintaining a good mood and fighting depression. Here are some tips to maximize the benefits of winter-time exercise.
- Utilize high intensity interval exercise. This type of exercise produces amazing heart healthy, mood elevating benefits in as little as 12 minutes a few times per week.
- Don’t be afraid to exercise in the cold air. The cold air stimulates your immune system and causes you to burn more calories as well. A fast-paced walk, a short run, or a HIIT routine is perfect for outdoor, cold air exercise. Of course, if you have breathing problems, such as asthma, you should avoid outdoor exercise in the cold air.
- Even if you do not exercise outdoors, focus on moving more. Walk more often and take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Simply increasing non-exercise movement will help you maintain better blood flow and stimulate mood-elevating hormones.
When the temperature drops, we tend to move less and stay inside more. As a result, we have fewer physical reminders to hydrate. However, dehydration quickly zaps your energy levels and leads to depression. Be sure to drink at least a ½ oz. per pound of body weight of either water or freshly extracted vegetable juice.
Essential Nutrient Supplementation
Maintaining a healthy, whole foods, plant based diet is essential for you to get the vitamins, minerals and plethora of phytonutrients that your body needs. However, even the best diet can be low in certain nutrients, especially in winter weather. Consider supplementing these nutrients to counteract deficiency and boost your mood.
- Vitamin D3 is the sunshine vitamin because your body can produce adequate supplies when exposed to sufficient sunshine. Many people struggle with this even when they live in predominantly sunny environments, like Florida. Supplementing Vitamin D is even more important in the winter months when there is less sunshine. The Vitamin D council (VitaminDCouncil.org) provides some specific recommendations for supplementation, as well as, much valuable research on Vitamin D.
- Vitamin B Complex are used by your body in nearly every metabolic process. Sufficient levels help you sustain energy and stamina; breakdown carbohydrates, proteins, and fat; and maintain mental balance. Without proper levels of B vitamins, you are prone of low energy, mood swings, poor sleep and even depression. Most B vitamins can be obtained from your diet, however, if you are experiencing these symptoms, it is a good idea to supplement with a full vitamin B complex.
- Essential Fatty Acids/Omega-3 fats are found in many healthy foods including chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, avocados, and coconut milk. They are also abundant in fish; however, it can be difficult to find a clean fish-based source. Krill oil is a good option. Maintaining healthy levels of essential fatty acids is critical for good brain health and mental stability.
We can’t change winter but you don’t have to continue to suffer from the winter blues. Implement these tips today to conquer seasonal affective disorder and restore your great health all winter long!
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