CFIR Toronto's Clinic Director, Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C. Psych., offers a few helpful tips below to start feeling good again **:
Nourish Your BodyMany of us experience cravings for certain foods when the winter season blows in and our bodies develop a yen for carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are directly linked to the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, an emotion regulator that helps you feel emotionally stable, less anxious, calmer, more focused and energetic.
When that 3 p.m. craving for a savoury or sweet snack hits, it’s your body’s way of self-medicating, seeking to improve your mood by boosting your serotonin levels. Listen to your body and give yourself that much-needed serotonin lift.
Instead of calorie-dense, sugary pieces of bread and sweets that offer a quick mood-boost and then a crash, consider healthier alternatives such as fruits, nuts, and yogurt.
Get Active!Physical activity increases not only the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, but also increases dopamine, the emotion and pleasure neurotransmitter, and endorphins, your pain-relief and pleasure neurotransmitters. Incorporating movement into your day (climbing stairs, going for a walk, etc.) gives your body the activity it needs to keep your mood up throughout the day.
Make Sleep a PrioritySleeping excessively (or hibernating) is normal in the winter and is often a reaction to the cold, but for some, ongoing insomnia or difficulties falling or staying asleep create difficulties that can lead to the blues. Provide yourself with a space at home that includes comforting objects (such as a warm blanket, beautiful objects, etc.) to calm your stress hormones. Aim to get exactly the amount of sleep you need to feel fully rested and ask a professional if you are unsure about how much rest is the ideal amount.
Do Things that Light You UpFind activities in your life that give you a sense of pleasure and meaning, that involve curiosity, exploration, and interest–this could be collecting or building things, researching something you love like traveling, or caring for other people. Artistic endeavours like creating and listening to remarkable music are also great options. Pleasure, curiosity, exploration, and interest all stimulate dopamine, which makes you feel exhilarated and alive!
(**Note: If you or a person you know is experiencing regular symptoms of depression, it is important to seek medical attention from a physician. If you don’t have a family doctor, click here for additional information and options via Ontario.ca.)