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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Winter Blues

It's happening. I can feel it in my bones. The first major snow of the season has blanketed our roads, lawns and driveways. The frigid cold is settling in (much too early may I add). The dwindling daylight hours are making it difficult to want to leave the house after 5 pm or to even get out of bed before 8 am.  The lethargy is slipping into my bones making it harder to move and a dim fog is settling itself over my brain, making me want to do nothing and just stay cozy. The winter blues are here.

Every winter, usually in December right around the winter solstice, I get the blues. Like a dark, stormy navy blue kind of blues. The winter blues can affect many of us, particularly those who live in colder climates like I do in Southern Ontario (but seriously don't let the southern part fool you). Sometimes, these blues can evolve into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The disorder can zap you of your energy and affect your mood, and even start to cause depression. Other times the winter blues just makes everything around us blah. For me it can take away my creativity, dwindle my energy, blurry my focus and just overall make me miserable.

Which is why last winter I tried a revolutionary new treatment! I had done some careful research and was very courageous in volunteering myself as the test subject. I had decided to ditch winter for 9 glorious days and went down to Panama. Poor me, I know. Don't worry, I took the kids (and the husband) so it wasn't all roses and sunshine. Ok, it was A LOT of sunshine, you should see how much by reading my posts here and here and here (shameless plug). But the physical change and filling up on a large dose of Vitamin D and Vitamin Sea was exactly what I needed to get myself through last winter. Except that by March I felt depleted and needed an additional session of this therapy. Alas, my request (by my financial advisor aka my husband) was rejected. 

Since this winter, I have no prescription for a trip down south (although if anyone wants to get me a plane ticket, I won't say no),  I'm arming myself already with some tips that have helped in the past. 

What I do:
  1.  Light therapy: A couple of years ago I got myself a "happy light." We've probably heard about them and their benefits of helping to mimic day light without harmful UV rays. To be completely honest, I don't know if it actually works. But I do take mine out and plug it in by my desk and turn it on a few times a day starting in November. If anything it brightens up the room.
  2. Vitamin D: It is commonly called the sunshine vitamin, and I was advised by my family doctor to take 2000 IU/day - which means two tablets daily. (But please, consult your family physician first!)
  3. Talk to A Doctor: Before starting any therapy, even the light therapy or taking vitamins, go and speak to your family doctor. I usually schedule and appointment in Mid December to check in with her about how I'm feeling and to see what I am doing for myself to help those feelings of blahness. She's supportive and wonderful, and helps me monitor how I feel so the winter blues don't develop into something more.
  4. Move: Frankly, it's the last thing I want to do in the cold winter months when my body feels sluggish and cold. But I try to schedule in some group workout sessions a couple of times a week, pre paying for a class is a pretty good motivator! Plus working out with friends is wonderful for the soul. I also try to get out at least once a day for a walk (yes even if its freezing!. This is in actuality a lot easier than it seems. How you may ask? Get your kids a puppy and find out! (muahahaha - insert evil laugh)
  5. Lykke yourself: Yes I always promote self compassion and kindness towards yourself, and you should always 'like' yourself, but also trying "lykke-ing" too.  It is pronounces "Luu-Kah" and is the Danish word for happiness.  I had read "The Little Book of Lykke" last year and it helped to change some of my perspectives. Imagine a country where it can be much colder and much longer (ok, just as cold and just as long) as here in Canada, yet they have a way of enjoying the longest season of the year - and being happy with it! The tips in this book have helped me to (try) to enjoy winter a little more and to help change my perspective so I'm not just hibernating and waiting out the season. I'm trying to find happiness in my least favourite season. I'm getting outside and taking the kids outside to play, to skate, to toboggan, to hike and to take in the beauty that does exist in the frozen tundra that is Toronto.


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