Did you know that winter blues are a real thing?! “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) is very real and sometimes we forget that this can affect children too. If you and/or your kids are feeling a little down this winter, here are a few tips for brightening your spirits.
1. Be intentional about vitamin D intake. Part of the reason SAD develops in the cold winter months is less exposure to sunlight which leads to lower levels of vitamin D. This can cause us to feel anxious, depressed, irritable, and often leads to carbohydrate craving and poor sleep. Including 2 cups of vitamin D fortified milk per day and 2-3 servings of salmon and other fatty fish per week can help. And for some it may be worth considering a vitamin D supplement.
2. Boost your immunity. SAD can be more intense when we don’t feel well. Stay on top of your immunity with nutrition by:
- including lots of fresh fruits and veggies rich in beta carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes) and vitamin C (strawberries, kiwi, watermelon, and oranges);
- ensuring adequate intake of vitamin D (fortified milk and fatty fish);
- and taking a probiotic daily as these support gut health which has a huge impact on our defence against viruses.
3. Set aside time for food preparation. If we are feeling the effects of SAD, we may crave foods high in simple sugar and saturated fat. These foods can cause the symptoms to get worse, not better. Setting time aside to wash and cut up fresh fruits and veggies increases our likelihood of consuming them when hunger hits. This in turn leads to a more nourished body and brain!
4. Get outside. Even 20 minutes of fresh air can help improve mood and sleep patterns. And while it may take more time to get your child ready to go outside than the time you are actually out there, the positive outcome of better moods, appetites, and sleep patterns make it very worthwhile!
5. Get active. Moving our bodies releases endorphins in the brain that lift our spirits. A simple walk around the block, ice skating, tobogganing, or just playing in the snow can help. On really cold days when it is hard to be active outside, try indoor yoga, online fitness classes, or even dance parties in your living room with your little ones!
6. Stay social! It is easy to feel isolated in the winter months. If you have young children at home, make a standing play date once per week with a friend who has children of similar age. Or if your local library, community centre, or church has a “mommy and me” group, make time to go and meet up with other moms and children. The social time will bring you and your children joy in the moment and also leaves something for you to look forward to if much of your week feels isolated.
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