If you’re prone to feeling a little down in winter you’re not alone. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety and depression affect millions of people every year. Globally more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.As New Zealand is positioned far from the equator we too can be affected by this phenomenon.
You can help beat the winter blues with these simple lifestyle tips.
- Eat a healthy diet – Fueling your body with nourishing foods will help provide the nutrients your body needs to feel better.Foods rich in protein such as meat, eggs, and fish are naturally high in Tryptophan – the building block for our main neurotransmitter (feel good hormone) Serotonin. Limit sugar, alcohol and caffeine as these offer temporary feelings of euphoria but can contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Keep active – Exercising for 40 minutes at a time promotes production of our neurotransmitters and can help improve your energy levels while also reducing stress. Where possible find activities that you enjoy so that you do not view exercise as a chore. It can help to have a workout buddy to help keep you both accountable and offer a more social experience.
- Head outside when possible – Exposure to sunshine provides a natural source of vitamin D which can help support healthy mood and immune function while the fresh air offers oxygen to your brain to improve focus and lower your stress levels. Although a separate test and one that comes with a charge, checking your Vitamin D levels with your Doctor now is a very good idea. For optimal wellness you want to aim for a level of approximately 100 nanograms/milliliter. If you have pale skin and are known to be low or have trouble converting vitamin D pick up a supplement at your local health store or get a prescription from your Doctor.
- Keep in touch – Socializing is good for your mental health and helps ward off feelings of depression. Make an effort to catch up with friends and family regularly and accept invitations to social events. Pop a smile on your face, research shows your brain cannot tell the difference between a fake smile and a real one and will actually make you feel more happy.
- Turn on the tracks – Studies have shown that listening to upbeat music can have a positive impact on your mood. Put on your favourite track and dance around the lounge or even better go for a power walk.
- Sleep – Lack of sleep literally impacts on our happiness, increases tension and irritability and can exacerbate depression. Ensure you get 8 hours of quality sleep each night.