WINTER FATIGUE? 5 WAYS TO GET YOUR ENERGY BACK
The sky is grey, and the chill wind blows outside. Right now, the best thing in the world would be curling up in a blanket with a cup of something hot to drink and a good book or movie, right? Sure, there are dishes to do, and an elliptical machine to hop on, but you just don’t have the drive.
Welcome to winter fatigue, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, approximately 500,000 Americans suffer from full-blown SAD, while another 10-20% of people experience a milder form. Common symptoms of SAD include:
- Weight gain
- Cravings for carbohydrates (those lovely “comfort foods”)
- Irritability or anxiety
- Difficulty with concentration
- Avoidance of social situations
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
What can you do to beat the Winter Blues? While some doctors include light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy, here are five ways to help treat winter fatigue in a more natural manner.
Light and Vitamin D
During the winter months, most of the Northern Hemisphere gets less sunlight, causing drops in Vitamin D levels in humans. This can lead to depression. To combat those wintertime blues, get as much sunlight…and, consequently, Vitamin D…as possible.
If your doctor finds your Vitamin D levels are too low, he or she may recommend that you take a supplement. Your doctor can also help you find the right brand and dosage to take. Ultimately, though, Vitamin D is best consumed through fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines, etc.), meat, mushrooms, and eggs, as well as good old fashioned sunshine.
Open your curtains and blinds early in the day to let in as much sunlight as possible. Also, take a few minutes to walk around outside to let the sun help your body naturally produce Vitamin D. Which takes us to point number two…
Since you’re walking outside to catch some rays, you’re already accomplishing this step. Martha Howard, MD, medical director of Wellness Associates of Chicago, recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise four to six times a week.
Whether it’s walking on the treadmill, taking a couple of laps around the block, or walking around your office building…exercise keeps endorphins pumping in your body, helping keep you energized to combat the winter blahs.
Balance Your Food
Comfort foods like mashed potatoes, thick stews, macaroni and cheese, etc. sound great when the weather is chilly and the days are short. Our bodies crave more sweets and carbohydrates to help us build that insular layer of fat that kept us alive back in our caveman days.
Doctors today, however, recommend getting a more balanced diet with higher amounts of lean proteins, such as poultry, fish, and lean red meats, as well as eggs, beans, and complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains. Balanced eating gives you more energy to fight the cold, and a well-rounded diet keeps the cravings at bay. And remember the vegetables and fruits. It’s always good to keep those in the diet.
Anyone who has driven on snow and ice-covered roads can attest to the fact that winter is stressful! A trip to work and back can be dangerous at best some days. Add to that the shorter hours and less exposure to sunlight, and everyone begins to feel the pressure building.
But along with emotional and mental stress comes physical stress. Fighting off the cold (and slip-sliding on ice) can put heavy pressure on the body. The body works harder in winter to maintain temperature control (and balance) while trying to work through the day. What to do?
Yes, you got it. Relax!
Find hobbies and activities that help relieve stress. Meditation can be a great time to let the mind relax and unwind (a new form of meditation involves coloring in adult coloring books), while yoga can chill the mind while working out the body. Talk about a win-win!
A final way to fight winter fatigue and SAD is to visit your chiropractor. He or she can help you create a nutrition plan that helps you eat a balanced diet and set up a series of stretches and exercises that help you reach that 30-minute goal. Regular adjustments help realign your spine and wake up your nervous system, turning on your power so you can fight the winter blues.