Blue Monday has come and gone, yet somehow still exerts its influence; grey sky, short days, unpredictable weather, and the post holiday blahs can be a real drag. If you’re feeling bummed-out with this whole new-years push to self-perfection, here are a few ways to improve your sense of well-being in these short dark days.
Movement: Note my deliberate omission of the word “exercise”. This is not to say that I don’t recommend exercising, only that the word implies an activity outside of the normal, daily routine; something you take time out of your life to do. For example, you would schedule in a trip to the gym or sign up for a weekly fitness class. These are all worthy activities, certainly, but they take you away from your life rather than join you in it. I know it’s not always possible, but try to incorporate movement into your day to day moment to moment life. Here are some examples: never take an elevator or escalator; get off the bus early and walk; ride your bike to work/groceries/shopping. These moments add up to a life of movement and over the course of a month, two months, a year, you’ll be surprised how much exercise you’ll clock. Check out this short video and maybe get inspired.
Vitamin D levels: About 8 years ago, when this much-neglected substance got a lot of media attention, everyone ran to their doctor for testing. However, since the cost of the test is high, and supplementation is cheap, MSP won’t allow it. I can’t chance a guess at my patient’s serum vitamin D levels, but what I can say is that with all the patients I see who have paid to have the testing done, I’ve seen very few people with adequate levels. At this time of year, with the light taking it’s sweet time come back, it is very safe and effective for you to supplement with vitamin D and see the benefits show up in your mood and sense of well-being. This meta-analysis concluded that low levels are positively correlated with depression.
Gratitude Journalling: Taking 5 minutes a day to record a few things you’re grateful for can have a massive impact on your perspective. If you engage the part of yourself that sees beauty or joy, you prime that perceptive function to notice it more. It’s like when you think of a red umbrella and suddenly you notice them everywhere. You will begin to experience more positive emotions, sleep better, express compassion more easily, and even improve your immune function.
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