Blue Tuesday…

Yesterday was what is referred to as “Blue Monday” because it’s widely considered to be the most depressing day of the year. While there are no real, scientific studies to back up the claim (the date was created through a “mathematical equation” developed by a PR company), many people find themselves feeling down at this time of year. Note that feeling “blue” and suffering with depression are not the same thing. If you feel you are dealing with a serious mental health issue, be sure to contact your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and support can make a tremendous difference in one’s recovery.

I know I can feel low at times during the winter. Times where I just don’t feel like getting out of bed or when I’d rather curl up than go out. So for those of us who, from time to time, just feel a little “blah” or who can’t find the motivation to do anythingggg, then perhaps this post might help.

First, why is this time of year so “depressing”, anyway? Well, for many of us, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over and we can miss the fun when life was filled with food and laughter and cheer and visits with friends and family. For many of us, it truly IS “the most wonderful time of the year.” Coming down from that “high” can feel like a let down. It can feel like the cold and damp of winter is all that’s ahead of us now until the spring…and that can feel…depressing.

If you live in Canada, we tend to experience cold winters with fewer hours of sunlight, which can both lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD). This winter has been especially cold in most parts of Canada, and finding the motivation to get outside has been harder than ever for many of us.

For many people, new year’s resolutions were made, often relating to eating better and exercising, as it is common to gain weight over the holidays. We might have even bought a gym membership and a fridge full of healthy food. But now that we are two weeks into the new year, many of us have already traded in the running shoes for fuzzy slippers and the kale for the cookies. It happens. We are creatures of habit and change is HARD.

And what about the health of our bank accounts? We can find ourselves spending a lot more over the holidays, and now that the credit card bills are pouring in, stress levels begin to rise and we can experience cognitive dissonance–that feeling of regret over spending on things that seem frivolous now.

So what can we do to feel better? I’ve come up with a list that addresses the most common culprits for feeling low.

Here goes…

#1: Stop the bleeding. Just like any good turnaround strategy, if we are feeling depressed because we have overspent, taking the necessary steps to stop the bleeding is key. Be mindful of your spending by choosing not to buy any unnecessary items. This isn’t the time for fancy lattes, manicures, new jeans or a 72″ flat screen TV. Hold off on unnecessary spending until you have saved the money. During the week, try giving yourself an allowance of, say, $30 pocket money for the week. This should likely only cover coffee/tea/misc but you will get very good at deciphering needs from wants! At week’s end, if you have any money leftover, throw it in a piggy bank and treat yourself to something down the road. On weekends, look for things that don’t cost money. Think walks, hikes, snow shoeing, skating or relaxing by the fire–or on the couch– with a loved one. Watch a favourite movie and pop your own popcorn. Go over to a friend’s place for dinner and offer to share in the meal. Or do a potluck with a group of friends. Bring a big salad or crudite (raw veggies and dip) and kill bird # 2 with one stone…

#2. Eat Green. Often we can make a resolution to “eat healthy” but we don’t have a real plan for doing so. I suggest trying just ONE thing at a time, so that you can begin to develop healthier habits over time. For starters, try making a goal of eating an extra serving or two of veggies every day. Your body will thank you for the extra vitamins and minerals and your waistline will appreciate the help. Try throwing in a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie. Eat some raw veggies and hummus as a snack. Eat a salad or vegetable soup for lunch. Eat an extra serving of Brussels sprouts or asparagus at dinner. Take a veggie tray or big salad over to a friend’s house as an appetizer. IF you want to do a little more, here is my suggestion for a 7 Day Post-Vacation detox.

#3. Drink water. I can not suggest this habit enough. When we are dehydrated, we can experience brain fog, lack of energy and a general sense of malaise. Even a 1% drop in hydration affects our health, and did you know that when we are dehydrated our brains actually shrink? Try prioritizing water all day long rather than gulping down one big glass when you are dyyyying of thirst. Start your morning with some warm water with fresh lemon juice, drink water throughout the day by having a reusable water bottle near you at all times, and try sprucing up your water with fruit or mint. For added hydration, herbal tea and sparkling water are good choices because they lack caffeine, which is dehydrating. Aim for 8 glasses a day or half your body weight in ounces, as good goals. For every caffeinated beverage, drink another glass of water.

#4. Move More, Not Less. When we are feeling low, we can tend to want to curl up into a ball and pull the covers over our heads until we feel better. And while this can feel good for a time, it can pull us farther down if we are feeling SAD. If you are feeling blue, moving your body will invariably have you feeling better. Instead of having a specific number on a scale, worry more about getting yourself moving, even if it’s spread out throughout the day. In fact, studies show that moving more often is better for our overall health and wellness than doing one intense session at the gym. I wrote a post on this topic and here are some of my suggestions for moving more. They say that food is the most overused anxiety drug and exercise the most underutilized anti-depressant. If you are feeling low, try your hardest to move in any way you can. You will–almost immediately–feel better!

#5. Clean Up to Feel Good. If you let other things go because you were so busy over the holidays, now is the time to improve your mental health by completing tasks that will help you to feel better. Get your finances in order by tallying up all of your expenses and creating a budget; organize your files for tax season coming up; re-arrange the room you’ve been wanting to change; or tackle that pile of books you keep meaning to read. At work, buckle down and complete that project you’ve been working on. At home, physically clean up the spaces that need it. For example, if the basement is now a total disaster because you used it as party central or it’s now filled with all sorts of Christmas decorations, get down there are get started. A great way to improve your mood is to clean up. Choose whatever area in your home you’ve neglected (maybe that’s closets, bedrooms, the office, rec room or kitchen) and take an hour each night after work or one weekend day and clean out! You will feel so much lighter afterwards! Reward yourself with a warm cup of tea, a hot bath with candles and music, or a chance to finally dive into that new book you received for Christmas.

#6. Lighten UP! Figuratively and literally. When we experience less daylight in the winter months, it can wreak havoc on our mental health. No matter the colour outside, try making a point of going out every day. Even the sun through the clouds helps boost our mood by synthesizing its rays into vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts serotonin production and release. Try two 15-minute walks; morning and before dusk. You might also consider a full spectrum light that can help boost your mood naturally. Some experts suggest using only full-spectrum light bulbs throughout your home. The continual exposure is considered cumulative and can be beneficial for some.

#7. Supplement. Have your blood work done, but most of us are deficient in vitamin D and low levels of it affect our levels of serotonin. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, taking a supplement may help reduce symptoms related to low serotonin like poor mood and depression. Liquid is best, but tablets work fine and are cheaper. I personally take 2,000 IUs daily in tablet form. I buy the Kirkland brand at Costco.

#8. Eat Fat! Omega 3 fatty acids are fuel for the brain and a happy brain means a better mood! In today’s Western diet, we see far more Omega 6 fats (found mostly in refined foods), which are damaging to our health in high doses. Get the ratio back in balance by eating more Omega 3 rich foods. Think healthy fats from foods like salmon, avocado, eggs, hemp hearts, walnuts and chia seeds. Your brain will thank you!

#9. Breathe… Seems so simple, but in any moment, we can feel a little better simply by attuning to our breath. Breathing deeply helps to calm us and getting more oxygen to our brains is a way to feel better. Oxygen is a forgotten nutrient but it’s the most important to our lives! If things are stressful at home or work, close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold and then exhale. Repeat for a few more breaths before getting back to the task at hand. Remember you can only do so much in a day, so prioritize items that need to be cleared now versus next week and only focus on what’s right in front of you. Checking things off your list will feel like progress, which can help you to feel better.

#10. Connect. While “alone time” is necessary and often healing for many of us, we can tend to isolate when we are feeling blue. In Real Life connection requires us to get up and show up. This can feel like an insurmountable obstacle when we are curled up in a ball, but once we’re in the company of others, it’s amazing how much better we feel. Make a date with a friend you haven’t seen for a while. Perhaps choose to visit in one of your homes or else at a quiet restaurant so you can have a conversation. Avoid the small talk and truly enjoy your time together. Be real and connect. Because sharing our stories is one way we can feel better, and less alone.

Another great way to connect is through service. Volunteering at your local food bank or mission or anywhere else you choose to donate your time, doing things for others is a highly effective way to feel good.

And feeling good–as much as we can–is the goal.

Feeling good changes everything.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. In the comments, let us know how YOU deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder or feeling “blue”. Your suggestions might really help someone else in need.

P.P.S. I launched my 14 Days of Wellness by email, so if you’d like to receive the daily intentions to your inbox, sign up over on the right. Simply enter your name and email address to begin receiving the messages today. Let’s make 2018 YOUR year to care fiercely for your body! It’s free, with no diets, products, challenges or catches…just a chance to remember how amazing your body is–for 14 days.

P.P.P.S. Speaking of health, on April 21 & 22, 2018, Roger and I, along with our team, are hosting The Healthy Brain and Body Show for the second year. We are so pumped to bring this show back even bigger and better! We would love to see you there as an attendee, where we will have so much cool stuff to show you. We can't wait to explore, connect, learn and shop at the show WITH you! Please say hello if you come. Roger and I will both be there the entire weekend. It would be a thrill to meet you. 🙂

And if you--or someone you know--might be interested in being an Exhibitor with us, feel free to send them here where they can view/download the Exhibitor/Sponsor Package. Note that we have SOLD OUT of Sponsorship spots and we are over 70% sold out of booths!

We can't WAIT to serve you, so remember to save the date! 

P.P.P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. Plus, as a thank you for joining, you will receive my 14 Days of Wellness.



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