Tips to Beat the Winter Blues
Winter brings plenty to look forward to in Jackson – snow, skiing, holidays, cooler temperatures and vacations, but with shorter days and less sun exposure, it’s also a time when many of us experience feelings of loneliness, fatigue or melancholy. Many people can experience what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The Mayo clinic describes SAD as a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and affecting your mood.
How can we keep our mood levels healthy through the duration of winter? An easy way to start is to increase your Vitamin D intake! Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for some of the body’s most important functions that help regulate mood, parathyroid hormones, calcium absorption and to keep bones strong. Most of us know it is most readily available from sunshine, but living in an area with limited sunshine during winter can lead to a decreased level of Vitamin D. If you are having trouble getting enough Vitamin D from the sun, take a look at some of the alternate sources we have come up with:
- Dietary Sources. Foods naturally high in Vitamin D include fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, tuna, eggs, mushrooms or tofu.
- Fortified Foods. To combat vitamin D deficiency, many foods have been fortified (enhanced) with the addition of Vitamin D and include milk, orange juice, cereals and some yogurts.
- Vitamin D Supplements. If Vitamin D levels continue to remain low even after trying dietary sources or fortified foods, a dietary supplement can be taken to increase levels. Discuss the proper dosage with your primary care provider.
In addition to increasing your Vitamin D intake, here are a few other ways to manage mood levels during winter:
- Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to the regulation of mood, is found primarily in the gut and intestines. Keeping our stomach and gut healthy can help promote serotonin production. This can be done by having a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, fiber and fermented foods.
- Vitamin C helps build important neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin – both of which affect our mood. Foods high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit or lemon) bell peppers, strawberries and broccoli.
- Try incorporating foods that contain the phytonutrient quercitin. This phytonutrient can be found in apples, berries, grapes, kale, onions and green tea. Eating foods with quercitin will inhibit an enzyme associated with depression, monoamine oxidase, to help keep you healthier and happier!
- Stay social! Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people's mental health. Continuing to make time for face-to-face contact is beneficial year-round, even when it is tempting to stay inside.
January’s Wellness Tip is brought to you by Be Well Jackson Hole, a collaboration between St. John’s Wellness Department and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. For information, questions or to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian/ Certified Wellness Coach, please contact Torrie Gold, St. John’s Wellness Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-739-7242.