Most people get a touch of cabin fever/winter blues/seasonal depression if you live in an area that gets cold weather. It’s hard to get out for a run or even get in the car to go to the gym when it’s cold, damp, windy, snowy, dark, etc. I’m convinced I’m solar powered and the sun is my life blood. The odd part of that is my love of snow and cross country skiing so I live with a divided desire every winter to cross country ski or pack up my stuff and just head to the Caribbean for endless days on the beach. I’ve been cross country skiing 7 times already this year but my depression has been miserable.
Winter depression can be devastating and needs to be treated with honestly and seriousness. I have found that a good light therapy lamp helps keep me from going down a dark hole each winter. Mine is from Northern Light Technologies and is pretty powerful. If you want to see if light therapy works for you here are some tips. 1. sit no more than 12-18″ from the light source. 2. sit for 10-30 minutes each morning BEFORE noon. 3. Don’t stare at the light but make sure you are looking up so the light can reach the back of the brain through your eyes. It’ll make you squint a little but don’t wear sunglasses or put your head down. This is me below sitting in front of my light while eating breakfast and getting one more cup of coffee in me.
Beyond the light, other things you can do to help with winter depression is to get OUTSIDE. Even if it’s cold and cloudy. Bundle up, go for a walk, just get out there. Also, take a vitamin D supplement. If your insurance pays for a vitamin D test, get it done and get the right supplement dose for your needs.. Nearly all of us are deficient and it can lead to so many problems. Please educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. The recommended dose for adults is 600 mg per day. I take 5,000 and I know others who do the same because we are so deficient.
It’s been a really dark couple months here above the 45th parallel. I live half way between the Equator and the North Pole and I’m surrounded by the Great Lakes so cloud cover is constant at times. My winter depression (and many others I know) kicked into high gear very early. I normally don’t struggle until mid January or early February but this year we only averaged 13% sunshine in the last 8 weeks. Our standard is 26% according to the weather service. So. Much. Darkness.
To get myself outside more and enjoy the winter I invested in my first pair of skate skis for cross country skiing last weekend. I have been a skier for 35 years, since I was 13, but never had official skate skis. I’ve always had the classic nordic ski set and love it. However, the fun and speed is incredible with these new skis and it is so nice to get out in the woods and enjoy the beauty of winter even more! The picture below is skate skiing… think ice skating but on skis with poles…. not my picture – found it online for visual aid! If you want to see a great video on the basics of both skate and classic cross country skiing – watch this short video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4FXkStjld8
Maybe where you are winter isn’t that “pretty” because you don’t get snow. If so, try new exercise activities. Yoga, HIIT class, spin class, Crossfit, swimming, etc. Find a new thing to try and get out with other people. Social interaction and exercise is a big component in fighting depression.
As an alternative to suffering through the winter alone up here, I fully support an LHRL retreat to a tropical location in January!