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5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

With the sun’s rays dampened around this time of year in the northern hemisphere and retreating in late afternoon, it’s easy to slow down and get sluggish. Here are some ways you can create your own sunshine-like benefits to combat the shorter days.

1. Go to Bed Early
About one-third of working adults get less than six hours of sleep each night. Aim for 7 – 9 hours to get adequate sleep when your energy levels are low. Imagine living before modern times – no heating, electricity, indoor plumbing – getting into bed early was a key behavior to keep individuals and families healthy back before the 1800’s. In fact, historians suggest that we used to sleep in two shifts each night as the days were shorter and nights longer, before widespread use of electricity.

2. Take Your Vitamin D
This vitamin, actually a hormone, has been shown to play an important role not just in bone health but cancer prevention, survivorship, mood, fatigue, preventing muscle cramps, aches and pains and overall immune function. Our main source of Vitamin D is from the sun’s direct rays – just about 15 minutes per day of exposed skin. The problem is that for anyone living north of the 37th parallel (that’s Atlanta in the US!) from about November thru March we don’t get enough direct sunlight to activate our D levels to an optimal level. So, supplements are often needed for some individuals. Check with your doctor and ask for a blood test.

3. Drink More Juice and Less Coffee
With shorter days it’s tempting to use more caffeine or sugar to help us stay awake. Besides more Zzz’s getting more phytonutrients in your glass can help boost your energy levels naturally. Try these Seven Green Super foods for Super Energy. You’ll have the added bonus of immune support to help ward off those winter cold and flu symptoms.

4. Sugar Isn’t the Answer
With beautiful holiday cookies and cakes everywhere, temptation is all around. And it’s common to think we can boost our energy with a quick fix of sugar. While a treat here or there especially after a hearty veggie based meal is certainly a fun part of the season, relying on sweets mid-morning or mid-afternoon for a pick me up does tend to backfire. Instead, try some low sugar, high energy juices, smoothies and snacks!

5. Get Moving
Bundle up and head out with a friend or your pup for a walk, hit the gym or online workout video. Being physically active can help strengthen your immune system as well as your muscles and balance your energy levels to help you sleep at night. Cold, dark days make us want to curl up on the coach but shedding the cozy blanket for a short bout of exercise can do more than you may imagine.

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist