3 Ways to Boost Your Mood This Winter

3 Ways to Boost Your Mood This Winter
With the shorter days, gray skies and cold temps it’s no surprise people living in the northern states struggle with mood issues in winter. I feel I am affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to some degree myself. It can show up as slight moodiness or sadness to a form of clinical depression. It might cause low energy, carbohydrate cravings or weight changes. You may even experience this at other times of year if you live in states that have bad weather or the need to stay inside for long periods of time. Here are three things you could check or try to make sure your body is in top shape and ready to stay positive this winter. 1. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the four pillars of health. If this is too low, you can’t heal. Ideal levels are 60-80 ng/mL. Lack of vitamin D has been strongly associated with depression symptoms. Sun exposure is the best way to get Vitamin D naturally. Unless you are fortunate to vacation to a warm destination in winter, it’s hard to get it that way, plus in the north it’s not even strong enough if you are brave enough to venture out and expose enough skin. So you might consider adding a vitamin D supplement during the winter and eating more vitamin D–rich foods, like fatty fish and egg yolks. If taking a supplement make sure to take it when eating fat so you can absorb it better. 2. Prioritize physical activity. Exercise can boost your mood. I think those people out there running or biking with the fat tire bikes all bundled up are crazy, but if that works for you great! I make my way to the gym weekday mornings to get my activity in. Even if it’s just walking on the tredmill, just do it! It’s a great way to increase the body's production of endorphins-chemical substances that can relieve depression. Maybe challenge yourself and sign up for a fitness event that is at least three months away. I’m doing the Elkhart Lake Triathlon Sprint in June so that keeps me motivated to get to the gym. Group classes at the gym motivate me also. If I try to create my own workout it only lasts about 15 minutes. 3. Choose mood-boosting foods. Highly refined carbs and sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar level, which can leave you feeling cranky. Not to mention mess with your gut flora. It usually comes back to the gut with health issues, so make sure to choose some good greens to feed the healthy bacteria. Consuming foods that have natural probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, cultured vegetables, and sauerkraut, may also help improve mood by supporting gut health. Watch the sugar in these though. Make sure to eat some good whole foods like asparagus, dark leafy greens, garlic, broccoli, carrots and herbs like turmeric. Some good Omega 3s from wild caught salmon or other fish. Dark chocolate (over 75%) is good too. Has some good antioxidants in it. Avocados are natural hormone balancers. So maybe try this recipe from my website with avocados and chocolate: http://healthyhorizonscoaching.liveeditaurora.com/apps/recipe/details/id/Chocolate-Avocado-Mousse-10