Falling victim to the
winter blues is way too easy—we have frigid temps, grey skies and a long haul until spring to contend with. These unpleasant ideas make January, February and March tough to suffer through—both physically and mentally. We enlist the advice of Registered Holistic Nutritionist Daniel Chiang from the Inspired Life in Toronto for eight tried and true ways to shake the winter blues for a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Be physically active
Remember your New Year’s resolution to join a gym? Ahem. Yes, that one that maybe you didn’t necessarily keep up with? As post-holiday melancholy sinks in, this commitment becomes even more vital to your well-being. “Physical activity is an extremely important aspect of a healthy mind and body,” says Chiang. “Whether you’re walking at a brisk pace outdoors or pumping iron at a gym, each movement will help increase blood flow and oxygen to every part of your body, stimulating the production of chemicals in the brain that elevate your happiness and mood levels.”
Eat your way to a better mood
“You may have noticed that eating certain foods can make you feel like you were run over by a truck, while other times, like you’ve been shot with a concoction of flowers and rainbows,” says Chiang. You need to feed your brain the basics it needs to fight mood swings and maintain a positive outlook. Start small by adding magnesium (found in dark leafy greens), melatonin (from tart fruit juices like cherry) and selenium (from depression-resistant Brazil nuts) to your plate for the
winter uplift you desperately need. And ditch the bacon and maple encrusted doughnut.
Supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals
When your body needs a winter pick-me-up, introducing
fundamental nutrients to your diet can help you feel more content. “There are a host of supplements you can take to benefit your mood during the winter months. A good quality vitamin D3 supplement can be taken—the same vitamin that your body makes when it is in contact with sunlight,” says Chiang. "B vitamins, especially folate and B6, are essential in sustaining balanced hormones and nervous system functionality."
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Mourning the loss of your holiday vacation time is a major stress builder, but you can feel Zen once again if you focus on your breath and maybe a little daydreaming of a beach in the tropics. “When oxygen is balanced and being absorbed throughout every cell in our body, we feel invigorated and refreshed," says Chiang. "When you consciously breathe in deeply, you not only increase your oxygen intake and absorption, but you also release toxins when you breathe out." Concentrate on taking long, equal breaths to help every muscle in your body relax.
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Give yourself a pep talk
Positive reinforcement is one of the easiest ways to improve your attitude toward the winter months. The idea? Write down your accomplishments, ask yourself what you love about your life and keep track of things to look forward to (like your upcoming beach vacation, perhaps?). “The suggestion for doing affirmations is to keep reading them until you believe the statement to be true,” says Chiang. Post your notes on your computer, bathroom mirror or nightstand so you can review them on a daily basis and overcome the winter blues.
Take a break from reality
When all else fails, taking a moment to escape from your everyday norm can have a major impact on a healthy mind. Set aside a few minutes of "me time" each night to listen to upbeat music (hello, Beyoncé), catch up on your favourite TV show (Scandal it is) or read a new book. “If you’re feeling down and out, one of the quickest ways to get out of your rut is to watch a lighthearted comedy or funny Youtube video,” says Chiang. Laughing and smiling will rapidly trick your brain into feeling happier, and who doesn’t want that?
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Play up your beauty look
Fact: Preserving a healthy mind can be as simple as applying a vibrant shade of makeup. “Go for bright and warm colours that can conjure spring or summer memories,” says Chiang. With the addition of a hot pink lip colour or neon orange nail polish, your mood and appearance are brightened simultaneously. (Bonus points for instant gratification.)
Be fashion forward
“Did you know that putting on a dress can actually make you feel happier? A study from University of Hertfordshire concluded that when you put on nice clothing your brain actually associates the garb with happy times and can perk you up when you are in a low mood,” says Chiang. Even if you’re just going out for a casual dinner, wear your best LBD and favourite accessories to raise your mood. (When in doubt—remember the winter blues will subside with spring just around the corner.)