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It’s officially winter! I hear some of you groaning as you read that. I don’t blame you! When the temperature dips, often our mood and energy levels do too. You’ll hear many people dreading the dreary days of winter from January to mid-March.
After the holidays are over, many of us feel tired, irritable and a bit down. Due to lack of sunlight and shorter days, our body’s natural rhythm is thrown off, which can disrupt hormone levels. This can affect your mood and make you want to sleep more, also known as ‘the winter blues.’ Some people even experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a more severe type of depression.*
Are we all doomed for a depressing winter? Not at all! How do you navigate the cold winter months in Pittsburgh, and minimize the winter blues? Here are 4 hot tips to keep you warm and healthy this winter!
- Seek out things that bring you joy. Whether it’s going to see Hamilton or skating at North Park, seek out ways to enjoy the winter months. My favorite go-to resource is Pittsburgh Magazine, as it features new restaurants to try, a calendar of events and plenty of activities to keep you busy. When you have small things to look forward to, it boosts your mood. Also, listening to an upbeat playlist can improve your mood according to research from the University of Missouri.1 Get those feel-good tunes pumping!
- Ensure you are getting enough vitamin D. Your body makes vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. With very little sunlight during the winter months, our body can be depleted of this essential vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to decreased mood, energy and low immunity. Each person is unique, so be sure to ask your doctor if he or she recommends a supplement or requires you to get bloodwork to measure your vitamin D levels.
- Get enough sleep. When your body is deprived of sleep, you are more prone to getting sick. Sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system. Ensure you are getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. My favorite ways to relax before bed is to use lavender oil on the soles of my feet or drink a warm cup of chamomile tea with lemon. Utilizing essential oils is an easy, natural way to calm your nervous system.* Citrus scents like lemon or orange are uplifting scents you can use in a diffuser or in a carrier oil to be applied topically.
- Try new recipes. Spice up your meal prep routine with a new recipe. My favorite healthy winter recipes include roasted vegetables, baked apples with cinnamon and crockpot chili. Cooking can decrease stress since it serves as a creative outlet. Easy, healthy recipes can be found on Pintrest, AllRecipes.com or from your own family cookbook. Not only does cooking decrease stress, but the actual food you are cooking can serve as medicine as well. You can utilize certain foods to increase your mood. A small piece of dark chocolate has been shown to decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, while regularly eating fatty fish like salmon can help lower anxiety through it’s omega 3 fatty acid composition.
These simple tips can be incorporated slowly into your winter routine to improve your energy levels, mood and immunity. Staying indoors doesn’t have to be daunting! So snuggle up in a blanket, read a good book and enjoy the next couple of months!
Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt is a licensed pharmacist, certified health coach, certified hypnotherapist and Founder of Enlightened Wellness Solutions, a wellness company geared to empower women to find freedom from food addiction.
For the last 7 years, Dr. Christina has been delivering powerful talks in the NYC and Pittsburgh area and guiding her clients to transform and heal their relationship with food.
Dr. Christina is also a passionate author of three paperback books, Revealing Your Inner Radiance: Healing through the Heart, Reclaim Your Power: A Roadmap to Re-energizing Your Life, and Lighten Up! 7 Weeks to Release, Recharge and Revitalize.
You can reach Dr. Christina at www.enlightenedwellnessPA.com
Facebook: Enlightened Wellness Solutions
- Wall, Timothy. Trying to be Happier Works When Listening to Upbeat Music, According to MU Research. https://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2013/0514-trying-to-be-happier-works-when-listening-to-upbeat-music-according-to-mu-research/. May 14, 2013.
*Always check with your doctor before trying any new supplement, essential oil, exercise routine or food that may interfere with your healthcare regimen. See full medical disclaimer at www.enlightenedwellness.com.