How to overcome those Winter Blues?

Yes, it’s coming! Here in the Midwest this week old man winter is reminded us that he’s in the neighborhood and is about to setup shop for the next 3-4 months. When winter finally gets here many of us usually do not have a plan on how to handle the changes in the weather, and those changes might be affecting our mood on a daily basis. According to Wikipedia, it’s otherwise known as Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this is a disorder that occurs during a particular part of the year usually the winter months. Here are a few small suggestions that might help with overcoming the winter blues this year:
Make Healthy Food Choices
It’s critical to avoid junk food during any part of the year but especially during the winter months. I know a lot of workers like to bring donuts and bagels into the office during the holiday season. That is, of course, a very nice gesture, but it’s best to avoid them if you can. Foods high in sugar or carbs can spike your blood sugar levels. The constant blood sugar spikes and then drops cause fatigue to set in. It’s best to stick with foods that are high in protein and whole grain foods as well. Examples: Baked or grilled Chicken, brown rice, and salmon
Get some sunlight
Vitamin D levels are crucial, and most of my patients in the Midwest always come back with low Vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels also have to do with limited exposure to the sun. During other parts of the year, this is less of a problem, but during winter months people avoid going outside due to the frigid temperatures. This lack of exposure to sunlight may also be contributing to people having those winter blues or SAD. Another solution may also be investing in a light box. Light therapy boxes attempt to simulate outdoor light. If you need more help with understanding how a light box might help, you can contact your doctor or call my office for an appointment.
Exercise
The holiday season is here, and it’s so easy just to lay on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner and watch some good ole’ American football. Heck, it’s also easy to just wait until next year (like the Chicago Bears) and think about getting on an exercise regimen then. Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to combat the winter blues because exercise can actually elevate your mood by releasing endorphins (a feel good hormone) into the blood stream.
A goodnight’s sleep
This is a problem for many Americans and if you are having trouble with getting a goodnight’s sleep then please do contact a doctor. A lack of sleep can impair judgment and make you irritable throughout the day. Your co-workers or subordinates may indeed be thinking evil thoughts about you because were so crabby at the morning meeting.
I know you might be thinking that a lot of these things go without saying, but when we are slogging through the winter months it’s very easy to lose one’s focus and just forget about basic things like this. It’s ok to try and get through a bad day. It’s probably not a good strategy to get through the whole winter without a plan. How you are going to stay positive and manage your stress throughout the upcoming months? If you need help in overcoming the winter blues, please do not hesitate to give my office a call for an appointment.

Dr. Shah, MD