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Winter blues creeping in? Suggestions to support your mental wellness this season.

As the days creep towards the darkness of the December Solstice we can find ourselves struggling with mood and motivation. The sun seems to have a pull on us, to get us outside, get us moving and feeling optimistic. These longer nights have us staying inside, sedentary and often alone with our thoughts. It can be a challenging time for anyone who tends to avoid their inner life by being busy.

Get outside - Nature therapy is a thing. It’s becoming a recognized way to help boost mental health as more research is showing the biochemical changes in the body when we hug a tree. During winter in Ottawa I recommend going on some long walks in your neighbourhood , cross-country skiing to the new SJAM (Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway) winter trail (Hintonburg to Westboro), toboggan at the Arboretum or take a day to hike or snowshoe into one of the day-use cabins in Gatineau Park. As long as you dress appropriately, you can still enjoy outdoor activities this winter and it can make all the difference.

Limit your screen time - Have you been binge-watching TV? Many studies show that increased screen time worsens mental health in children's and teens, and we can assume in adults as well. Not only is the internet addictive, social media can play a role in our tendency to compare and judge our own lives, playing into some of our negative thinking patterns. Take up a new hobby this winter , spend more time cooking and moving your body, have real interactions with friends and family members. A good old-fashioned board game is so much better for your mental health than Candy Crush.

You are (and feel) what you eat: Want to feel vital and balanced mentally? Consume foods that have lots of vitality. Fresh, whole foods eaten in a balanced way has a huge effect on our mental wellness. Skipping meals or consuming high amounts of sugar has disastrous effects on our blood sugar and can lead to more anxiety and panic attacks/depression. We produce 80% of our serotonin (happy chemical) in the lining of our intestines. For this reason it’s so important to ensure your are eating in a way that minimizes any intestinal inflammation. Feed yourself vital and balanced diet and limit sugar intake (a huge source of inflammation). Happy Cooking!

Being Present is the best present to yourself: Our minds often think the exact same thoughts each and every day. Unfortunately most of these thoughts have a negative spin. “What if… “ or “I’m such a failure because…”. Whenever we leave the present moment, we are essentially in our heads playing a movie about what happened or what may be coming. In contrast, when we become conscious and in the present moment we can stop the negative habitual thinking. Each time we do this, we strengthen our ability to choose a different way of thinking. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, being creative, exercising and deep breathing are all examples of being present. There are so many opportunities or practice this in your daily life. The popular HeadSpace app, community mindfulness courses and online free youtube videos are all accessible avenues to learn more.

For more individualized care, book in with one of the Naturopathic Doctors at Healing House. We help people struggling with anxiety, depression, stress and overwhelm with a holistic approach using natural therapies.

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