It’s 4°C here today which is much better than the record breaking cold spell we had a couple weeks back and, yet it is that time of year where many are experiencing the winter blahs. Many of us are feeling some form of winter blahs – that feeling that winter is never going to end that comes at the same time of year as the feeling of guilt from over indulgence or spending over the holidays. In fact last Monday was officially known as ‘Blue Monday’– thought to be the single most depressing day on the calendar year based on the fact it’s historically a cold January day, Christmas is over and holiday bills are starting to come in.
I hate to say the end is not near, but we are still a few weeks away from they day when we rely on a fury little groundhog to help predict when the end of winter is going to be…..and even if he does predict an early spring, it’s not right away. So what’s one to do in the mean time?
No fear.....I am sharing with you my fav strategies for managing the winter blahs
1. Consider replacing some comfort food pitfalls with new recipe ideas
Summer heat waves may lend themselves to grilling and indulging in fresh summer salads in your household but what happens in the winter? We tend to seek out warm, comfort foods – mac & cheese, lasagna, casseroles etc. - many of which can be calorie dense and combined with reduced physical activity this can be a challenge for our health goals. Of course that feeling of not staying on track comes back around to further lead us feeling the blahs and so the cycle repeats. Instead of sticking with your usual winter classic recipes, challenge yourself to try some new ones– if you are going to be indoors more in the cold weather, why not use the time to build your healthy recipe go-to list. Maybe it's trying out a new plant-based recipe in your Instant Pot or
2. Bundle up and head outside
Maybe not on those record breaking cold days, but on milder days like today bundling up and heading outdoors for some physical activity is a great way to manage the winter blues. Yes it's more work to layer up in the winter than to slip on the flip flops in summer and run out the door but, there is something about crisp winter fresh air combined with activity that gets the blood flowing that is truly uplifting. Hit the pavement for a walk with your dog (also good exercise for him/her!) Looking for something more adventurous? There is much to do outdoors in the winter time if you go looking. Dust off the old pair of skates or go for a hike in a beautiful provincial park.
3. Don’t forget about vitamin D
I’m probably not the first person to mention vitamin D aka “the sunshine vitamin” to you and that’s because we know its an important nutrient and there is increased research showing a connection between vitamin D and mood. (Side note: for those of you with digestive health issues there is also research suggesting a positive association between vitamin D intake and gut health). Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is naturally found in dairy as well as fortified dairy-alternatives, margarine etc. but it is also a nutrient that our body can make for itself when we get enough natural sunlight. No surprise then in winter time when we bunker down indoors, our vitamin D level might need a top up with a supplement if our dietary intake lacks or if we suffer from vitamin D insufficiency. If you are over 50, Health Canada recommends a 400IU vitamin D supplement daily year round even in the sunnier seasons.
Note: My tips above are lighthearted ideas to help if you are experiencing mild winter blues but are not meant to dismiss more serious feelings of sadness or depression. If you are feeling overwhelmed and/or that your feelings of sadness are taking over your life – seek professional help. Not sure if you need help? Start by calling Telehealth and speak to a Registered Nurse who can help guide you 1-866-797-0000