November is one of the hardest months of the year in Canada. Beach days are long gone, the excitement of fall has worn off, the gorgeous October beauty fizzles out as we shift into Winter, but are not quite there yet. It is a time to hunker down and work hard before the Holiday season creeps up on us; a time for chopping wood, putting the garden to bed, and making sure there are boots and toques that fit.
It is not generally a time to prioritize health.
In fact, health often gets tossed aside with the summer clothes, buried under to-do lists, swept under the rug for a later date.
And then, many of us wonder why we feel SAD throughout the month of November. Our motivation to exercise disappears, we don’t feel like leaving the house or making social plans, we lose the desire to cook, it becomes difficult to focus, our skin grows pale, we’re not sleeping well, and conflict seethes its way into our relationships.
Whether you, or someone you know, suffers from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), or depression, or just bouts of feeling low, there is no harm in thinking ahead this November; in taking a few extra steps towards preventing the seasonal blues and prioritizing health and mental wellness during this often cold and dark month.
Preventing Seasonal Depression
- Exercise Regularly: Number 1 for a reason, lack of exercise is greatly affiliated with seasonal depression. Whether we fall out of a regime or we find ourselves too busy with other things, exercise falls down our priority list until it is non-existent and we find ourselves suffering in many other ways because of it. This season, prioritize an exercise regime that fits with your life and stick to it. You will notice a difference.
- Eat for Nourishment: Not quite as easy as it sounds, shifting focus from food-as-fuel to food-as-nourishment activates intuitive eating centers and mind-body connection. If we prioritize feeding ourselves with nourishing foods, we wind up making better food choices, putting effort into mealtimes, and preventing over-eating and disconnected/dysfunctional eating habits.
- Supplement: Boosting the body during the tougher months is one of the smartest pre-emptive moves we can make. Many wait until a cold or flu has taken hold to supplement with immune boosters, but it is often too late. Supplementing with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, antioxidant rich greens powders/acai berry powder/rose hips, medicinal mushroom blends, turmeric, spirulina, coconut oil, and/or probiotics, are all ways to strengthen the body, warding off colds and flus, boosting nutrient intake & preventing nutrient deficiency related depression. If you are not familiar with supplementation, consult a health professional to help decide what’s right for you.
- Get Outside Every Day: So simple and so so very important. Outside air invigorates the lungs, calms the mind, and stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain. Enjoy after work walks, midday hikes to catch the sun, have a business meeting in the park, or simply eat your lunch outside.
- Find Natural Light: Getting out into natural sunlight is the best form of our much needed sunshine vitamin, but not always easy to catch during our dark Canadian months. Luckily, there are other things we can do to get more natural light. Open up the curtains and the sunroof, replace your light bulbs with ones that simulate natural light, and move your workspace closer to the window. If you currently have a workspace that prevents you from being near the window, put the wheels in motion for change – you will have better productivity with all the benefits of natural light.
- Plan Social Time: Plan ahead by booking a dinner date with an old friend, a movie night with your kids, or purchasing tickets to a show at the theatre as a birthday gift. Social time fills us with excitement, encouragement, connection, and fuels our pleasure centers. If you know that you are the kind of person who drops off the social scene during the harder months, set aside some dates now so that you have something to look forward to. You are less likely to back out if you plan ahead.
- Remove Downers & Drainers: Bad habits & addictive tendencies go hand and hand with depression. What comes first depends on the person and the situation. Set an intention this November to choose better situations, gatherings, and surround yourself with people who support a healthy lifestyle. Identify what your triggers are, write them down and post them up on your fridge or in your car. Remind yourself of what you want to change, who you want to be, and ask yourself what is most important to you in this life.
- Invite Humour: Humour can often bring us up from a low day, if even for a moment. Seek out a funny book, a light and entertaining TV series, or spend an evening watching some good ol’ comedy movies. Better yet, invite your funniest friend out for lunch and bust a gut over some good food.
- Listen to Some Tunes: Music is stimulating. Choose music that you know you like, is uplifting, and turn it up while you are doing house chores, cooking, walking, or just hanging out with the family. You may find yourself singing along and tapping your toes in time and without much effort. Oftentimes, music engages our creative self and we find ourselves dreaming up new ideas, inspiring us towards the creative and inviting us to make things happen.