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This time of year can always seem hectic and stressful. For many, it’s a wonderful time of year but for others it is not as enjoyable. Between finances, holiday parties, shopping crowds or loss of loved ones, the holidays can bring some blues along with the joy. With numerous holidays in such a short time, everything seems rushed. The hustle and bustle can seem inevitable but there are ways to cope with it all.
For most of North America, winter brings shorter, colder days. This not only affects temperature but also can have an affect on our mood and sleep. The longer periods of darkness has an affect on our circadian rhythm, which deals with sleep cycles. It can make it seem that we should be in bed at 6 pm because it gets dark so early. When our circadian rhythm is not balanced, it causes our sleep to be off and thus affects our mood.
The lack of sun can bring on seasonal sadness. One way to combat this is to get outside while it is still light. Go on a brisk walk to soak up some sunshine and vitamin D. We are less likely to receive vitamin D through the sunlight during the winter due to the shorter days and the cold weather. If you cannot get outside during daylight hours, I suggest you supplement with some vitamin D3. You can get a blood test of your vitamin D levels in order to know exactly how much supplementation you need. Most people do not have the proper amount of vitamin D levels and I highly recommend testing a few times a year, especially during those “dark” months. The amount of Vitamin D you have not only affects your mood and sleep but also is necessary in almost every process and mechanism in the body.
A daily walk during the winter not only exposes you to sunlight but it also gets your heart and body moving. Keeping active is another way to burn off stress. It improves circulation and releases endorphins, which are hormones that help balance mood. Sometimes there is nothing better than getting out in the fresh air and going on a long (or short) walk to clear your mind!
It is really important to take this time of year and make a plan. This can also alleviate any excess stress that comes your way. If you make a plan, this will help you navigate through all the stressful aspects of the holidays. Like life, most plans don’t always go as we would like them. But if you keep in mind to be flexible when plans change, it will be easier to cope. Make back up plans. Ask for more help with tasks. Don’t shoot for perfection on everything. Don’t be afraid to say no. Make yourself a priority. Listen to music and dance! Don’t overbook your schedule. Eat good and nutrient dense food. Schedule in some relaxation time each day, even if for 10 minutes. Read a good book. Take a vacation or even a stay-cation. Hold those you love near and cherish those moments, even through the chaos the holidays may bring.