The Winter Blues
And How To Cope
From June summer solstice, the days slowly get shorter. By the time September autumnal equinox gets here with colder and wetter weather, the shorter days are more apparent. Abrupt weather changes affect our immune system and the level of serotonin in our brains. Our sleep patterns change and can affect our mood, we crave carbohydrates and tend to not feel well. Cold weather makes our joints hurt and the cold and flu viruses are eager to make us sick.
I dread winter. Every year I know I will get the Winter Blues, and every year around this time I wonder, how soon and for how long. Since I have started watching my body pH and eating a healthier diet, cutting out sugar and gluten, I haven’t had a super bad winter. I still get down about things but it’s not totally debilitating. If like me, you experience the Winter Blues every winter and you feel better in the Spring, then you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect you in the Summer as well, with relief in the Fall, however that is not as common as winter SAD.
It starts for me when the air turns colder and the leaves on the trees start to fall. I spend less time outside so I stay inside the house next to the wood stove. Less activity interferes with my sleeping pattern and energy level. I eat to keep warm and pass the time. I hurt more, I’m moody and I get lonely because I’m not out working in the garden and not doing things with my friends. It’s depressing and I feel myself spiraling down.
So every year I make a plan of survival. Even though I know all the right things to do, life does have a habit of getting in the way of the best laid plans.
- Watch your body pH, know that cool temperatures tend to lower your pH. So in addition daily baking soda and water (PH Quick Start Plan https://www.autoflower.net/forums/threads/ph-plan-quick-start.26520/), drink lemon juice and eat foods that are alkaline to my system. Even though you are more than likely craving sweets and carbohydrates, try not to fall into that trap of gaining excessive weight over the holidays.
- Cook as fresh as possible, canned and boxed meals are full of preservatives and excess sodium that are not good for you.Frozen vegetables and fruit have the same or better nutritional value as fresh since they are sorted for their peak of ripeness before freezing. Watch for added sugars.
* Notice that the artificial sugars are more acid forming than white sugar.
- If you have to spend most of your time indoors, it is a good idea to go outside at least a couple times a day. When it’s warm enough you can go outside barefoot, all the electrical appliances we have in the house may mess with our own electrical system and touching the ground will ground us.If you can, don’t wear sunglasses during the winter. You make your vitamin D from sun absorption through your eyes and skin. On cold days not much of your skin is exposed so the eyes need to get it.
- While you are inside, open all the window curtains and let as much sun light in as possible, even on cloudy days. Open windows to air out the house. House pollution is worse in the winter when doors and windows aren’t open much. Chemicals from cleaning products, flame retardants (in carpet padding, furniture, etc), dust, irritants in the air and ash from the fireplace. Perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs are the chemicals that make Teflon non stick pans and found in fabric, carpets, backpacks and in some food packaging containers can be in the air.
Natural cleaners and household products are easy to make and don’t have chemical traces. I’m amazed at how many products can be replaced with things you probably already have like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. The Frugalicity web site has many recipes for natural products that work great.
I use the fabric softener recipe that is just vinegar and water. It is cheaper than store brand, our clothes don’t have a perfumy smell and it keeps my (he) washing machine clean.
- The winter blues can really mess with sleeping patterns… too much sleep or not enough. Take your last glass of baking soda and water before going to bed. More oxygen in your blood may help you get a good night sleep.Cold temperatures lower your pH so keep yourbedroom at a comfortable temp. Sleep.org suggests the best temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67ºF (15 to 19ºC). Temperatures above 75ºF or below 54ºF (24 to 12ºC) can wake you.It’s best to turn off all light, including the TV, soothing music is a good alternative to leaving the TV on all night.If I still can’t sleep, I can take a Magnesium bath or rub magnesium oil on to relax me. A foot bath works well too. The best form of magnesium is magnesium chloride. Epsom Salts are magnesium sulfate, which will help you relax but will take twice as much and last half as long. Read more at AFN Magnesium Facts
- Probably the thing that helps most people get through the winter blues or any little bout of depression is being around people. If spending time with friends in person isn’t possible, then the phone or internet would work too. Chat with friends at AFN’s Live Stoner Gossip. Writing things down in a diary can get things off your chest and they will no longer be bottled up inside.
- Being active helps. Exercise if you can, but any activity that stimulates your body or your mind seems to chase away the blues and mild depression. Plan for winter blues by taking up a hobby or learning about something new.
- Physical and mental pain stops many from feeling like doing anything, adding guilty feelings on top of everything… even when others understand. Be kind to yourself, if this is reoccurring SAD or mild depression, you know you will get through this.
- I like listening to music, all kinds of music, and I know that music can influence our mood and feelings. On bad days I can put on the ’70’s music or something upbeat, and I’ll dance. It brightens my mood, keeps me from getting stiff, and I’m getting exercise! You don’t even really need to stand up to dance, sitting in a chair or on the couch works too.
- Drink lots of water. It is recommended we drink eight – 8oz glasses of water per day. The 8X8 rule is easy to remember, but you may need more if you exercise intensely, or less for some medical conditions. Coffee and tea do add to hydration and also act as a diuretic.Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant.
It’s easy to remember to hydrate when it’s hot, drinking water should be something we do all year. Sodas and energy drinks work against you and lower your pH which can make the blues or depression worse.
Listen to your body, drink when thirsty. I add lemon juice to my water for an easy way to keep my pH up.
Alcohol is definitely something I try to avoid when I’m prone to mild depression. While it may act as a pain killer for me instead of pharmaceuticals, it will also reduce me to tears hearing a sad song or any remembrance.
- You want to make sure you take all prescribed medications, if under the care of a doctor.
- Many of our medicinal herbs and spices are water soluble. Making them easy to take in the form of teas.
Green tea has many health benefits, it affects brain function, improving mood and memory. It has a body relaxing affect while keeping your mind alert.
Here are some pain and/or stress relieving herbs that can be used for tea.
Pain reducing herbs – Turmeric, Mints, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme.
Stress relieving herbs – Chamomile,Passionflower,Lavender,Lemon balm and Valerian root.
Mix and match 2 or 3 dried herbs, ½ to 1 teaspoon each in a bag or loose in the bottom of a cup. Add boiling water and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain and enjoy!
Lavender and mint is a good combination.
Oregano, rosemary and thyme can be used in cooking, and also makes a tasty pain reducing tea.
There are so many different variations on the severity of The Winter Blues, SAD, and depression.
If at any time you feel that you may harm yourself or others, Please call someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is avaliable 24 hours a day/7 days a week. 1-800-273-8255
With that being said, I hope no one reading this ever needs to use that number.
Any statements made by Root are considered general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this article, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.