Well, it’s now February and we’re deep into winter; it’s still cold, it’s gray and damp, and many are fed up with it. Although it’s the month of love, many people are not feeling warm and bubbly inside. January in southern Ontario brought us a record number of overcast days, bringing an increased desire for more sunshine to help us endure winter for several more weeks. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) this is an especially difficult time.

Those afflicted with S.A.D. commonly describe how they feel with terms like “Winter Depression”, “Winter Blues, or “Cabin Fever”.  Symptoms appear following Daylight Savings, when the sunlight is reduced by four to five hours daily, decreasing the amounts of Vitamin D it normally provides. Symptoms of S.A.D. include bouts of depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, lethargy, change in sleep patterns, and cravings for sweets and starchy foods.

So, what are some of the best decisions we can make to help us move through the remainder of this darkened season, feeling more energized, joyful and in good health?

I suggest that first one consults with their health care provider. Do not self-diagnose. A thorough assessment to determine nutritional deficiencies, such as low Vitamin D is a solid first step.  Vitamin and Mineral deficiency can be caused by impaired absorption or increased excretion, so good digestive health is important. Digestive complaints can be brought on by stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, dehydration or low fluid intake, medication, and/or low levels of digestive enzymes. Be sure to look at these health issues first. Consider purchasing a Light Box or S.A.D. Lamps. They are safe to use, have no UV or dangerous after imaging; and they can be set on a timer to wake you to a natural sunrise. Fifteen minutes spent in sunlight or light therapy generates the body’s ability to produce the daily dose of Vitamin D needed. Open the curtains in your home, and sit by a sunny window.  Take advantage of the many winter sports available to Canadians like downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, skating on an outdoor rink, tobogganing, tubing or snowshoeing. Dress warm and take a brisk walk outside. Exercise will create those feel-good endorphin needed to lift your spirits.

To be sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, increase your intake of fish. Many Health Stores carry natural, chemical free fish. Eat red meat that is low in fat and in moderation. Egg yolks supply a highly useful form of cholesterol that is used in the manufacture of adrenal hormones, which can help to reduce your body’s stress. Look for the organic and hormone free variety for your best choice. Consume moderate amounts of dairy products, choosing low fat varieties when possible. If any of the above mentioned food can cause an allergy or you are still concerned about intake requirements, consider taking Vitamin D in a supplement, as well as Calcium, and Vitamin B Complex, as required. Sufficient doses of Vitamin D can replace the lack of sunlight exposure and help to increase levels of serotonin in a person affected by S.A.D. Dosages can vary from person to person.  Always check with your health care provider and purchase a good quality brand for best results.

I’m always happy to help you to feel your best, and hope that you will pay close attention to your body’s needs and seek assistance when needed. Yes, it’s a long winter, but there’s no need to suffer. Let’s make sure your February is filled with self-love and nurturing so that you feel great, despite the cold temperatures.