Winter is here! It's dark when you leave in the morning, dark by the time you get home in the middle of the day and we all get a chill we just can't shake. It's no wonder our energy takes a hit and it gets increasingly difficult to get out of that warm and cozy bed in the morning. Thankfully, there are ways to fight back! Here are 3 easy ways you can increase your energy and fight those winter blues!
1. Take some sunshine vitamin!
Vitamin D is a crucially important vitamin that we simply do not get enough of during the best of times. From what I've seen in the research and what I've come across in practice, if you are not supplementing with Vitamin D and you live in Canada you are deficient or severely sub-optimal. Most people who live in North America will have their Vitamin D levels reach their peak in the summer months. This ends up being somewhere around 50 nmol/L of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D (the blood marker for Vitamin D). To put that into perspective, under 50 nmol/L is insufficient while I like to see optimal levels up between 90-125 nmol/L. So those insufficient levels are what most people get to when they're out in the sun, throw in months of darkness and avoiding outdoor activities and you can easily see why we literally get sick and tired during the winter. Getting your levels up to an optimal range can have dramatic effects on energy, immune strength, mood and bone health.
**Get your Vitamin D levels tested before supplementing so you can be dosing at the right amount to get you to optimal levels quickly without overdoing it. Always look for an emulsified drop form of Vitamin D, tablets will never be absorbed as effectively.
2. Supercharge your morning cup of coffee!
I personally love this next tip because it's so delicious and has a profound and immediate impact on your day. I love coffee and there is nothing wrong with good, clean sources of coffee beans. I'm a bit of a coffee aficionado so I enjoy trying different bean blends from local shops that roast their own beans. These places are popping up everywhere so a quick google search should find you some great beans close by. If you live in the Toronto area some of my favourite places so far have been Birds and Beans, Hatch, Coffee Tree, and Hale. Now that the beans are taken care of, brew yourself that nice cup of coffee and add a tablespoon of Coconut oil, MCT oil, or even some grass fed butter. MCT oil would be the most ideal here in terms of energy boosting fats and little to no flavour change, however the other 2 options are effective and delicious! I know it sounds strange, it did to me as well the first time, but it actually tastes creamy and delicious without having to add sugar and the fats provide you with incredible energy that slows the caffeine release and extends the energy boosting effects without the crash! Try it out! You won't be disappointed!
3. Get a happy lamp!
If you are not yet familiar with happy lamps, get to be. They should pretty much be government subsidized for climates that have winter as a season...period. These lights have been created to mimic full spectrum sunlight without the UV radiation. Vitamin D creation aside, having exposure to something similar to sunlight first thing in the morning can really help you get up and out of bed, giving you a mood and energy boost at the same time. This type of light therapy has been studied and shown to be clinically significant in treating seasonal affective disorder, increasing mood and improving energy levels. You can even sync them up with your morning alarm clock so that you're waking to the gentle glow of full spectrum light. You can find example of these happy lamps here if you're curious.
**make sure to read and follow the instructions before using one of these lights. They are not intended to be looked directly into or left on for more than 30 minutes at a time.
There you have it! 3 simple tips to beat those winter blues. Now get out there and try them for yourself!
P.S. If you have any great coffee places you'd like to share I'd love to hear it!
Dr. Rob Raponi,
Naturopathic Doctor, CISSN, B.Kine