Winter can be hard in Indiana. The days are short. The weather can keep us indoors more that we would like. By the end of March, I don’t know about you, but I miss the sun! For some people, this can lead to the winter blues. Since we cannot really change the weather, I am going to share a list of the things we do have some control over. I hope something in this list will inspire you to care for yourself and avoid the winter blues.
1. Keep moving
We all know that exercise is good for your health, but did you know that it is also good for your mental health? Exercise actually changes the chemical make up in your brain and balances the hormones that keep you sane. It can be hard to keep up an exercise regimen in the winter time (or to start one for that matter), but it can be done. If you enjoy your evening walk around the neighborhood, continue this tradition by driving to the closest superstore and walk for the same amount of time. If this does not work for you, walk around your house or up the stairs. If walking isn’t your thing, get an exercise video series to work through. If you do not have the money to invest in a series, look online to see what you can find. This might take more effort, but it’s free! You could also join a local gym, but don’t be surprised if it seems a little crowded in January.
2. Resist the sugar
The holidays can wreak havoc on our good intentions and normal routines. With all of the parties and cookie exchanges, we often eat a lot more goodies than we should. Now is a good time to step back and regain control over you eating habits. Not only will this benefit your waistline, it can also help you feel better. Sugar and other junk foods depress the immune system. Your body has to work hard to process these foods and the inflammation that they cause can even affect your mood. These foods can play tricks on us. At first you might even feel like they make you extremely happy. Unfortunately, you will eventually crash mentally and sometimes physically. That afternoon soda might get you through the end of the workday, but pay attention to your energy level later on when you get home. Stabilizing your blood sugar throughout the day with good nutrition balance will pay off in the long run.
Winter can be a hard time to get your daily vitamins through your diet. You should still strive to eat fruits and vegetables when you can, but be sure to take your multi-vitamin to fill in the holes. Some other supplements to think about in the winter include Vitamin D and Omega-3s. We naturally get Vitamin D through the sun, which is difficult when the sun is so far away from us from October to April. Vitamin D helps to boost the immune system which is always helpful. Omega- 3s are found in fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and eggs. Even if you eat some of these foods, you might benefit from a supplement during the winter months. Omega 3s can help decrease the inflammation in your body which can help with depression as well.
If you know that you are prone to depression in the wintertime, or just want to feel better in general, consider one or more of these tips and make your health a priority this winter. You can also make an appointment to speak with a HealthNet provider by calling a HealthNet location near you.
Post by Megan McDonald, CNM