Winter Blues? Seven tips to light up your life!
(a wellness column by Kelly spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
i am not a fan of rainy, cloudy days. i mean one or two here and there are fine but the continual cloud cover of Canadian winters can play on my health and happiness. i miss the sun terribly and find my mood starts to mirror the gloom of shadowy days after any extended period. perhaps because am a leo born in the heat of august, but i always feel more alive when the sun is shining on my face whether it is -1 degree Celsius or 20 plus.
i remember many, many years ago hearing about s.a.d. (seasonal affective disorder). it seemed to explain the symptoms starting in the late fall and continuing into the winter months. i felt a sapping of energy making me feel moody, tired or even blue.
i used to try and book a winter holiday down south each year. my parents had a place in Florida they migrated to annually, so it was an easy, cost effective trip for me and my kids. but as life happened, kids in university and obligations redefined, the trips don’t happen anymore, as much as i crave them.
s.a.d. (seasonal affective disorder) can be mild or even more serious form of depression. seasonal affective disorder affects about 2-3% of Canadians. Fifteen per cent experience a milder form of sad that leaves them only slightly down, but still able to live their life without major disruptions. people with seasonal affective disorder make up about 10% of all depression cases, with some groups of people who are at higher risk of seasonal affective disorder, according to Canadian mental Health association.
adults are at higher risk of sad than children and teenagers. after the age of 50, the risk of sad starts to decline. researchers aren’t yet sure why. Women may be more likely to experience sad. some research found that women may be up to nine times more likely to be diagnosed than men. people in more northern countries or cities are more likely to experience sad than those who live close to the equator. The amount of daylight you receive changes as you move north, and that change is thought to be part of sad.
even if you don’t have sad, it is shocking to the Canadian system to see the sun go down in the late afternoon of november. in contrast, it sure does make you appreciate the gorgeous northern sunsets of summer at 8:30 p.m.
my friend and colleague dr. mark dickson recently obtained verilux “Happy light.” He brings the lamp to work and i often use it at my desk. i love its brightness and after a few minutes i don’t know the light is on. Happylight therapy lamps mimic sunlight to enhance mood, energy, sleep and focus - but without the uv rays. They are said to assist with winter blues, sleep disorders, light deprivation, jet lag, shift work and other symptoms alleviated by exposure to healthy light. Happylight lamps are full spectrum, 10,000 lux lamps.
How do you know if you have affects from lack of sunlight?
many have concerns with wanting to sleep all the time, or have troubles getting a good night sleep. often feeling tired all the time, making it hard to carry out daily tasks. appetite changes, particularly more cravings for sugary and starchy foods which can cause weight gain can happen. many experience feelings of sadness, guilt, irritability, hopelessness and tension and feeling stressed more so than usual and avoiding people or activities normally enjoyed.
it is very important not to diagnose yourself without speaking to a professional because there may be other causes for these symptoms. and even if it does turn out to be depression, it may not be the sad form of depression.
sunlight is an essential ingredient for a healthy and happy lifestyle, but many of us don’t get the amount of daylight we need to experience its benefits.
so here are seven tips to light up your life.
1. light therapy lamps. There are two types of light therapy: bright light treatment, with the light box at a certain distance from you on a desk or table. Then you sit in front of it while you read, eat breakfast, or work at a computer. The other is dawn simulation. For this treatment, a dim light goes on in the morning while you sleep, and it gets brighter over time, like a sunrise.
2. get outside. if the sun is out, take a few minutes and soak it in! even if the clouds are covering, spending time outside can still soak in some sun rays even if muted. go for a walk, as it encourages your brain to release endorphins, a neurochemical that boosts your mental health, decreases your sensitivity to stress and pain, and can even make you feel euphoric.
3. open the curtains and sit by a window. if you have a desk job in an office or are sitting on a chair at home during the day, move it by the window so that you are getting a better charge from the sun’s love.
4. get your sleep. go to bed at a good time, avoid the extra nap that might interfere with a good night’s sleep and set your alarm. routine can assist with proper sleep requirements.
5. avoid the extra carbs and sugars. They can cause us to crash more. and if you are already feeling blue, weight gain sure as heck is not going to help the situation.
6. if needed, counselling. if you can’t shake the blues, talk to someone about it. seek assistance to find effective coping mechanisms.
7. make like Canadian geese and migrate south. if you can, go to the sun. Find the heat, the warmth and the sunlight and soak it in. by the ocean is even more beneficial because of the negative ions in the salty ocean air that is believed to produce positive vibes by producing biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.
(if you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email [email protected]digolounge.ca)
Doug Macintosh, a Batesville Casket sales consultant, recently presented Robert Verhoeve with the company’s four-day Training Experience prize package.