When it comes to being happy AND healthy, our first three challenges (see links below) are crucial. Yes, the long dark days are associated with an increased risk of low mood, BUT, so is a poor diet, decreased activity level and sleep disturbances. See how this all feeds off of each other?
In addition to these, there are some creative ways to further boost yourself during winter and keep energy, mood, and motivation up. Wellness area four is a little bit light, a little bit fun, and makes sure we cover all bases.
What we tell ourselves: “Winter always makes me so “blah”.”
Try telling yourself: “The winter is full of opportunities for cheerfulness and energy and I have ways to guard against the “blahs”.”
Get More Natural Light
We crave natural light, so be intentional about getting more of it—get outside in daylight hours, open the curtains, try to eat lunch by a window, or consider exposure to a light therapy device for at least 30 minutes per day (there are many light therapy devices available at reasonable costs for this purpose).
Do not hibernate - plan events with friends and family that are FUN (and not overwhelming). Be present during activities, take a deep breath and actually enjoy them (even if you do have a to-do list a mile long when you’re done).
Know What You Like to Do & Do It!
You know how kids get bored and cranky and drive us bonkers sometimes? Is it possible that we are guilty of this too? Try something new, dig out that scrapbooking kit, get a massage, sign up for a class at the library, go to a museum...plan things to look forward to. Speaking of planning, do you have an event or vacation planned for late winter, spring or even summer? Did you know that anticipating a positive event produces the same happy chemicals as actually participating in that event? Research or even plan, look forward to, talk about the fun events you have coming up.
Help your body help you.
While there are no fancy long-term studies to prove this, there is data to support supplementation of fish oil, B vitamins and vitamin D3 from a reputable source to help guard against the winter “blahs”. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about adding these supplements. And of course, ask your doctor if you are experiencing more than the occasional winter “blah” feeling. Depression is a serious condition and deserves medical treatment.
Put it on paper:
1. Write yourself a Happiness Prescription. Write down at least three things that you can add to your routines and plans that will boost those happy chemicals.
Don’t forget to join our Winter Wellness Challenge and get a gift from me!
Here’s the plan:
2. If you want to play along with my challenge, complete the “Put it on paper” homework for each week and share a tip for others on Facebook or Instagram. Use the hashtag #WinterWellnessChallenge AND tag @SignaturePrimaryCareandWellness in each post.
3. Join my Enjoy Wellness Facebook group to hang out with my crew and get more support and accountability.
4. If you complete all four posts and join the group by January 7th, you will not only feel SO MUCH better going through winter, but you will also get a gift from me. That’s right. I feel so strongly about this I want EVERYONE who does this to get a prize from me.
Dr. Paige Gutheil is a board-certified osteopathic family medicine physician and advocate for a Whole Health approach to your wellness. She is on a mission to help people thrive by looking at all the influences on health...body, mind, and spirit. Dr. Paige is the founder of an innovative team-based direct primary care practice, Signature Primary Care and Wellness in Hilliard, Ohio. She and her colleagues provide comprehensive primary care, counseling, coaching, nutrition education and yoga to help people all over central Ohio and beyond make fun, achievable changes towards their healthiest and happiest life possible!