There is no such thing as a bad winter.
I’m finding that people I talk to daily are stressed out. They’re lethargic, they’re unhappy at this time of year, just going through the motions to “get through,” waiting to emerge come spring.
The reality is, we live in Canada. Winter months here in Ontario are 4-5 months of the year, and life is too short to be miserable for a third of it.
My suggestion is to combat the feeling of the winter blues in several ways. You don’t necessarily have to love winter, but you CAN feel vibrant through it.
How do you keep your energy up?
With low light in the evenings comes low energy. It is a biochemical signal to slow down through the winter, which made sense evolutionarily when access to food was low – but in today’s world, we don’t always slow down.
My absolute favourite thing to do in clinic with patients is B12 shots. The difference in energy is incredible! This makes the difference between feeling like you can get up and tackle anything, vs coming home and collapsing on the couch.
If you’ve ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder and thought: “I might have that,” here’s why just taking the recommended 1000 IU is not enough. You need to actually have your levels tested in order to properly address a deficiency. Otherwise it’s like feeling hungry, but not knowing how much to eat, so only taking a nibble and hoping it works.
Did you know that any dose over 1000IU requires a medical prescription? In order for Naturopathic Doctors to be able to prescribe it, they had to write an additional Pharmaceutical Prescribing exam – like yours truly did.
There are many different reasons why someone can feel exhausted, other than the low light. I address burnout (adrenals), thyroid, and nutrient deficiencies to combat all causes of fatigue.
Get cozy – practice “hygge”
Hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”) is the Danish art of getting cozy. The Scandinavian countries may actually have a tougher winter than we do, lasting longer and with even fewer hours of daylight (5-8!) Yet their residents are also some of the happiest in the world. Their secret is multi-fold:
Light. Combat the darkness with beautiful lights, candles, even campfires outside, and warm glow.
Spend time together – but slow it down. I find that Christmas time in December is lovely, but often leads to more stress when people need to rush from event to event, often in tricky weather. Let’s find the glory of Christmas, of time with those we love and enjoy, without the rush and hectic part. Relationships are not something that can be rushed over a coffee, but that get stronger with casual gatherings. I love the concept of “crappy dinner parties,” (read here: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-rules-for-hosting-a-crappy-dinner-party-235815) where informal is best, allows stress to evaporate, and brings people together more often. Instead of going out one on one for formal meet-ups, invite a friend (or a few) over for an easy cooking night – and let them help do the dishes.
The picture above is my little sanctuary, where I just want to curl up with a friend or a book just looking at it. There is something magical about those lights; I’ll be leaving them up through the winter to create my own cozy hygge. The important part here is to be ok with down time. We need to put down the latest piece of news, stop planning each moment of the day, and get absorbed into something that really refreshes you.
What's your favourite way to enjoy winter?