Winter depression is common and we attribute symptoms like tiredness, lethargy and stress to the weather or too much calm after the storm. After the flurry of opening gifts and eating too much Christmas dinner, a post-adrenalin slump hits and we’ve got the blues. It’s important to pay attention to our practices concerning healthy habits (diet and exercise) as there is a depression link. We’ve previously talked a lot about the nutrition + physical activity = wellness connection which are basic proactive steps to mitigate the blues.

Good nutrition is especially effective for warding off the winter blues. We believe in eating sustainably by choosing fresh over factory-farmed. More organic options are available, and although organic is slightly more expensive, the benefit is enhanced flavor and toxin-free food. A whole food diet which includes fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish, and supplies vitamin B and amino acids to keep the body and brain in good working order, is especially critical during winter. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Fast-food loaded with fat and sugar is short-term comfort food that contributes to hypoglycemic drop and fatigue which exacerbates the blues. Alcohol and caffeine in moderation is advisable.

Depression is like a cancer that eats away at the human spirit. If you don’t meditate, start. The “1-minute meditation” is an easy way to begin. Practice some positive reinforcement like keeping a journal or setting goals for the New Year. The blues can also be traced to a lack of sunlight during the winter. If the sun comes out in that wintry sky, go outside. Research has shown that just twenty minutes of winter sunshine can help to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affect disorder (SAD) sufferers. Of course, there’s always the sunlamp! If depression persists, see your doctor. Remember that knowledge is power. With access to the Internet, everyone can develop healthy habits to combat and alleviate those winter blues. Our favorite online resource is WebMD.

Many studies show depression and lack of esteem are related to lack of physical activity, while exercise and subsequent weight loss lower symptoms of depression and increase self-esteem. It seems to be that age old “chicken-egg” question. Does depression lead to unhealthy practices, or do unhealthy practices lead to depression? We believe that exercise and diet together are strong determinants for overall wellness. The key is to maintain full-tilt lives based on the foundation of good health behaviors and fitness. How simple is that?

Dialing it down and having some fun also play a part in alleviating the winter blues. We’ll talk more in our next blog about simple pleasures and taking a time-out for play-time.