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Are you feeling tired, irritable or just generally “blah” this winter? You could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or what’s more commonly known as the “Winter Blues”. Studies show that up to 15% of Canadians experience some degree of the “Winter Blues” this time of year. And it’s no wonder.   In our northern climate, winter days are short, and the nights are long and cold. We also tend to bebeat-the-winter-blues less active and socialize less this time of year.  While the exact cause of SAD is still unknown, experts agree that all of these factors combined can contribute to the “Winter Blues”.

But, there is good news! There are simple things you can do to beat the “Winter Blues”! A few small changes can make a huge difference in the way you think and feel.

1. Move More. Regular exercise boosts serotonin and endorphin levels in your brain, which helps improve your energy, mood, self-esteem, and sleep. It is also a great way to reduce your stress. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity everyday. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose something you enjoy – and get moving!! Take a walk outside, go skating or hit the gym. The possibilities are endless.

2. Eat Well. It’s natural to crave high carbohydrate, comfort type foods in the winter. They seem like a great idea at the time but these types of foods will cause a spike in your blood sugar, giving you a temporary boost of energy then quickly leave you feeling tired. Make a conscious effort to eat a balanced diet, high in whole, nutrient dense foods that energize you.

3. Drink Up. Make sure you are getting enough water! It’s not something we naturally reach for in the winter but it has so many important roles in our bodies including: flushing toxins from the body, supplying the body’s tissues with oxygen and nutrients, it is essential for circulation, protects cells from disease and viruses, and so much more! Dehydration causes migraines, fatigue, indigestion, and even muscle cramping – all of which can contribute to the winter blues. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they negatively affect your sleep, which can leave you irritable, depressed, and generally un-refreshed.

4. Soak Up the Sun. Sunshine is a vital ingredient for staying healthy and your best source of essential vitamin D. Sunshine also helps to battle depression. Do your best to get outside this winter! There are lots of fun activities to do outdoors during the winter months and exposure to natural light and fresh air have been shown to help lessen the affects of the winter blues and help improve your overall health. Also consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine. Most North Americans are Vitamin D deficient especially during the winter months. I recommend Douglas Labs Vitamin D.

5. Get Your ZZZs. Sleep is important for so many reasons. It’s the time when your body rebuilds, repairs and recharges. When you are asleep, your immune system is at its most active and repairs what it needs to while your brain re-organizes your cerebral ‘files’. Give your body the rest it deserves this time of year. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

I hope that these 5 tips will help you beat the winter blues. Try them out and, before you know it, spring will be here! What do you do to keep the winter blues away? Be sure to share in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!