“Extreme Cold Warning” notifications have frequented my iPhone these past few months. We have even had far less sunny days in what is such a staple and familiar “Sunny Manitoba” winter.
Although we know it’s out of our control, common dialogue upon greeting others begins with all familiar frustration over the weather. This winter though, it appears the Canadian Prairies wasn’t the only region hit with unseasonable lows, which sent many across our continent into the “winter blues”.
The winter blues, blahs, or seasonal sadness is fairly common causing many people to experience a shift in mood, sleep, energy and hunger patterns during the colder, darker days of winter (tea and pasta cravings, anyone?!). As Lauren Stokes in mindbodygreen states,
“Like the earth, our bodies and minds gravitate toward restoration, yet society continues at a bustling pace. It’s no wonder that during these seasons we experience more contrast between the shift in our internal energy and the continued societal demand to maintain a dizzying pace. During the winter season, we are expected to continue at the same pace we did when there was more light and the weather was warmer.”
So how do we keep up with the demands of our schedules (with a smile on our face), when we can’t keep hitting the “snooze button” and stay under our warm covers and hibernate?
As much as my mood and energy levels have been affected by the cold and lack of sunshine, I found a few things that worked to pick up my mood and help balance my energy. Call them my personal cure for the winter blues…
No Weekend Alarms + Embracing Moments of Rest
The weekend is a great time to “reset” our circadian rhythm (internal body clock) that tends to get off kilter during the days of minimal sunshine. And who does not love a Saturday or Sunday afternoon nap?! Take the time to let yourself sleep in a few more minutes (or hours). Your body will wake up when it’s ready.
Keeping up with regular exercise boosts mood and energy level. When possible, I love an exhilarating quick walk or run outside (even if it means wearing a balaclava and coming home with hair icicles!). Rosy cheeks and cold air through my lungs can be a refreshing feeling, AND I love watching my furry baby Chloe make her way through the snow in her booties and jacket!
I live with a family of “foodies” and my husband, Michael, enjoys planning meals whenever he gets the chance. We focus on clean eating (whole foods and plant-based whenever possible), and we love stews and soups in the winter. Our current favourite is a Chickpea and Kale Curry from Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest cookbook, The Clean Plate. We also refer to the Minimalist Baker for quick ideas.
Cold weekday evenings are great for an early essential oils “tub”, a cup of tea, and curling up on the couch with a book, the Winnipeg Jets game (our favourite hockey team!), or Netflix. I also love the challenge of a puzzle when at the cottage!
As easy as it is to cave to hibernation on cold (and dark!) evenings and weekends, winter food for the soul is time with special people. I love an after work glass of wine with a girlfriend, or a couples dinner or movie night out on Saturday. Quiet conversation, as well as giggles (sometimes followed by deep belly laughs) are healthy welcomes anytime of the year, but these moments give winter days so much warmth. This is the exact time to nurture your sisterhood or the connection with your significant other – chances are they’re also craving connection with their favourite people, and could use a little pick-me-up.
Vitamin D Supplement
Although a needed supplement for health and wellness year-round, I increase my Vitamin D dosage (according to my Naturopath’s and Physician’s recommendation) to double during the winter months.
Although you may feel low energy, the winter blues typically shouldn’t hinder your ability to enjoy life – it just requires a slightly different approach for a few months of the year. Whether you are in the “deep freeze” of the prairies, or building a snowman for the first time ever in Las Vegas or Phoenix, and as we await the near future early signs of spring, keep living your life and make time for the things that fuel your mind, heart, and body. Do it because “spring and summer you” will thank “winter you”…and, because we can!
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Photos: Casey Nolin Photography
Puzzle and Chloe photo – me 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this. I will make sure that I keep this in mind. Keep it up! I will share this with others as well.