How to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s February.  This is the exact time of year when many people start to feel the winter blues.   The holiday season has come and gone, and Spring isn’t quite here yet.  Do you feel a little “blah” or even down?  Do you find yourself reaching for the chips, or craving carbs during the winter?  Do you sleep more or feel tired more often?

You are not alone, my friend.  I’ve been there, as have most of us who live in areas with seasonal changes.  You can fix this with a few simple, daily steps this winter.

During the winter time, our days get much shorter and we get less sunlight.  This is the time of year when most people’s Vitamin D3 levels reach it’s lowest levels of the year.  Since Vitamin D3 is closely related to serotonin production, this means that some people begin to feel down, anxious, or just plain terrible.

Here are some easy things that you can do to put a little more color in your Winter and bring Spring a little closer!

 

  1. Take 5000-7000mg Vitamin D3 daily during the winter time.  (Take at least 2000 mg of Vitamin D3 year round.)  It’s a good idea to get your blood serum levels checked so that you can know how low your levels really are right now.  This costs about $30, and you can either have your doctor do this or order the test yourself at lef.org.  Many people have levels as low as 20 this time of year.  This is not good.  Having optimal Vitamin D3 levels can help you feel happier and reduce your risk for ALL cancers significantly.  My levels usually hover around 55, but super optimal levels are over 70.  I use Life Extension’s Vitamin D3 with iodine supplement with 7000mg daily.
  2. Get at least 15 minutes sun exposure when you can, preferably in your swimsuit.  I realize that most of you can’t do this right now for obvious reasons.  You can also use an alternative lighting devices which mimic sunlight.
  3. Light therapy can be effective when the right devices are used at the right times. Use at least 10,000 lux lighting in the early morning.  Research has shown light therapy to be most effective when done for 30 minutes soon after awakening in the mornings.  Here is an excellent product for those of you interested in trying light therapy. 
  4. During times of Vitamin D3 deficit, our bodies sometimes raise cholesterol levels because cholesterol can be converted to Vitamin D3.  If your levels go up during the winter, perhaps this is why.  Once again, check your Vitamin D3.
  5. Go for a run.  Exercise rebalances your mood related neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, GABA).  This is important when your Vitamin D3 levels take a dip since serotonin levels (and the other neurotransmitters) can be thrown off balance.  Think of this as your neurochemical run.
  6. If you crave carbs, try eating more root vegetables with your meals (onions, garlic, beets, carrots).  Root vegetables rock.  These fibrous carbs provide a higher boost of serotonin than other vegetables without the processed stuff.  It’s better to reach for these than the chips, and it might help you avoid a face plant in the birthday cake this weekend.
  7. Take l-tryptophan 2-3 times daily.  This is an amino acid building block for serotonin, which can help you rebuild the reserves needed to build your mood boosting neurotransmitter.  Take between 200-400 mg twice a day on an empty stomach before meals for the best effect.
  8. Watch a funny movie or hang out with someone who makes you laugh.  Laughing releases the same endorphins as running, so a good laugh can be like an “internal jog.”  Laughing is truly medicinal.

    Sunshine=Vitamin D3=serotonin

    Sunshine=Vitamin D3=serotonin

You can read much more about mood and neurotransmitters here.  Most of our behaviors, preferences, and addictions are driven by neurotransmitter imbalances.  Once you learn the basis for this, read up on how to change your neurochemistry with healthy behaviors here. 

That’s all from sunny South Florida today, folks!  We have two seasons:  Spring and Summer.  The sunshine is the best way to “download” a little Vitamin D3, but these tricks should hold you over until Spring if you are stuck in the wintery snow.  To my Lighthouse Point friends:  DID YOU SEE THE WHOLE FOODS SIGN?  COMING IN 2015!  Best sign ever.  I can’t wait!