5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

With the sun’s rays dampened around this time of year in the northern hemisphere and retreating in late afternoon, it’s easy to slow down and get sluggish.  Here are some ways you can create your own sunshine-like benefits to combat the shorter days.

  1. Go to Bed Early
    About one-third of working adults get less than six hours of sleepeach night. Aim for 7 – 9 hours to get adequate sleep when your energy levels are low. Imagine living before modern times – no heating, electricity, indoor plumbing – getting into bed early was a key behavior to keep individuals and families healthy back before the 1800’s. In fact, historians suggest that we used to sleep in two shifts each night as the days were shorter and nights longer, before widespread use of electricity.Tips for more sleep:
    14 Ways to Get the Best Night’s Sleep
    10 Plant Foods that Naturally Improve Sleep
  2. Take Your Vitamin D
    This vitamin, actually a hormone, has been shown to play an important role not just in bone health but cancer prevention, survivorship, mood, fatigue, preventing muscle cramps, aches and pains and overall immune function. Our main source of Vitamin D is from the sun’s direct rays – just about 15 minutes per day of exposed skin. The problem is that for anyone living north of the 37th parallel (that’s Atlanta in the US!) from about November thru March we don’t get enough direct sunlight to activate our D levels to an optimal level.  So, supplements are often needed for some individuals.  Check with your doctor and ask for a blood test.More on the Sunshine Vitamin:
    Are you Getting Enough Vitamin D?
    The Sunshine Vitamin Defined
  1. Drink More Juice and Less Coffee
    With shorter days it’s tempting to use more caffeine or sugar to help us stay awake. Besides more Zzz’s getting more phytonutrients in your glass can help boost your energy levels naturally. Try these Seven Green Superfoods for Super Energy.  You’ll have the added bonus of immune support to help ward off those winter cold and flu symptoms.Try these recipes:
    Cough Buster Smoothie
    Cold Busting Berry Smoothie
    Holly Jolly Juice
  1. Sugar Isn’t the Answer
    With beautiful holiday cookies and cakes everywhere, temptation is all around. And it’s common to think we can boost our energy with a quick fix of sugar. While a treat here or there especially after a hearty veggie based meal is certainly a fun part of the season, relying on sweets mid-morning or mid-afternoon for a pick me up does tend to backfire.  Instead, try some low sugar, high energy juices, smoothies and snacks!Learn more tips for anyone looking for less sugar and more nutrients:
    Rebooting and Juicing with Diabetes
    10 Simple Tips to Balance Blood Sugar
  1. Get Moving
    Bundle up and head out with a friend or your pup for a walk, hit the gym or online workout video. Being physically active can help strengthen your immune system as well as your muscles and balance your energy levels to help you sleep at night. Cold, dark days make us want to curl up on the coach but shedding the cozy blanket for a short bout of exercise can do more than you may imagine.Get Inspired to Work Out:
    Walk Your Way to Wellness
    24 Ways to Exercise without the Gym
    What to Eat after You Exercise
    “Lean” into Exercise
    Turn your Errands into Exercise

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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