One of the main questions I am getting in my office lately is about Vitamin D. So many of us notice the shorter days and our first thought is to take Vitamin D. We should be taking Vitamin D year round, even in the summer, but it is especially important this time of year. To know if you are taking the right dose, you should check your levels. This can be done through your medical doctor or at the clinic (for a fee). Otherwise see your health care practitioner to figure out an appropriate dose for you. 

While Vitamin D can be helpful to ward off low mood in the winter there are so many other options as well. 

Make sure the rest of your vitamins and minerals are in the right ranges. Bring your blood work in and we can go through it. Often a bit of a boost in your blood work can make all the difference in how you feel. 

But it doesn’t all have to be supplements. There are so many things you can do for yourself throughout the winter. 

Consider getting a light box. Using this as you get ready in the morning or at work as you sit at your desk. It is best used shortly after waking. It helps to keep your brain chemicals (or neurotransmitters) balanced to support your mood and sleep. These can be borrowed from Halifax Public Libraries or purchased online. 

Set the table with candles. We had to use candles when the hurricane happened and my daughter has been asking for them ever since. They set a soft mood and help to change the scenery from dark to cozy. Try Cosman and Whidden beeswax candles from the Seaport Farmers Market or make your own with beeswax from Organic Earth Market. 

Pick a book that you have been meaning to read but haven’t had time. Fiction or non-fiction. Educational or not educational. A magazine or a graphic novel. It doesn’t matter. Curl up with a blanket (and in my case, a magic bag to keep me warm) and a cup of tea and read. A couple of my favourites from the year are Do Less, By Kate Northrup; Daughter of Family G, By Ami McKay; The Joyous Cookbook, By Joy McCarthy; Becoming, By Michelle Obama; Gemology, By Andrea Tsang Jackson

Start a new hobby or take a class. There are so many neat classes available in the city. Better yet, ask a friend to join with you or start your own club. The Loop on Barrington offers knitting classes; the Centre for Craft and Design has pottery, ceramics, jewelry and more; Universite de Ste Anne has French classes. 

Switch up your exercise routine. When it’s no longer safe to walk outside or if you get bored of what you are already doing, try something new. Visit the Oval once a week, you can borrow skates and a helmet for free. Try Orange Theory (Young Street or Larry Uteck) or The Pilates Barre Room (in behind the Hydrostone). Order an at home work out from Jenn Pike or check out Fitness Blender. Take advantage of the snow and snowshoe (you can also borrow these at the Oval), downhill ski or cross country ski. Just because it is winter doesn’t mean the activity has to stop. Movement improves mood and energy and can be extra helpful in the winter! 

Sleep! We are meant to sleep more/longer in the winter time. As the sun goes down it is natural to go to bed earlier. I know that I always stay up later and get up earlier in the summer and go to bed earlier and get up later (if I can!) in the winter. Embrace that. Get a good pair of pyjamas, make sure your blankets are cozy and warm. Enjoy the darker time to recharge. 

Eat cooked food. When the weather is colder it is harder to digest cold food. Roast your veggies instead of eating a salad. Or add roasted veggies to a salad. If you make a smoothie add warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and turmeric. Make soups and curries for lunches instead of sandwiches. Try a new recipe. Eating new food is stimulating for the digestion system too. If you let your digestion have a break then you will absorb more nutrients and feel stronger. 

Take care of your physical body. Visit your massage therapist (or come see Monica at the clinic) or other physical therapist. Make sure your body is in alignment. Make a trip to The Floatation Centre (King St Halifax) to reset your nervous system. Try a yoga class for your level. Stretch and breathe at home. 

Find an event to look forward to. It can be as large as going down South or as small as a movie coming to your local theatre. Look for plays (think Neptune Theatre), concerts (we are going to see Mariana’s Trench in February), and talks to attend. Invite a friend or family member you never see to come visit. Plan a party. Book a staycation at a hotel close or at a cottage that is open during the winter. We love the Quarterdeck and they have a stay 2 nights get the 3rd free over the winter. 

Life doesn’t have to shut down in the winter. Keep your energy and mood boosted by trying new things and filling the season with things you love or have been wanting to do. But most of all rest, sleep and recharge so that you are ready to go in the spring!