Tuesday, 15 January 2019

combatting the winter blues

hello lovely reader, i hope your day is going well so far, and if it isn't i hope you find something to cheer it up.

today i'm going to talk about my struggle against the winter blues, which is something i've been wrestling with for many many years now. i'm loathe to say that i'm 'cured' because it's more like i 'manage' it, and if i follow just these couple of pieces of advice then i'm pretty much ok.

so let's start this story back in 2014, i'd been married a couple of years and my husband noticed distinctly that in the winter months i was a different person. i don't remember exactly what it was about these times, whether i was more prone to anger, would isolate myself more, was just a lot more depressive? but, to this day, he's always a little bit worried about how i'll cope as the days draw in. and my mother agrees, she also noticed this tendency in me (i'm pretty sure that's why she got a dog).

the other part of the puzzle was that my joints get particularly bad during the winter months - i always joked to myself that i needed to 'winter in Spain on doctor's order' like they would've done a century ago.

so, i went to see a rheumatologist about my joints a couple of years ago, and whilst she diagnosed me with 'insulin arthralgia', as a symptom of my Type 1 Diabetes, she also found out that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low. so, i was put on 10,000 iu's a day for a whole week to boost myself back up to normal, and then told i would need a daily dose for ever.

so, this is truly my BEST piece of advice for anyone suffering with the winter blues: get your Vitamin D levels checked, and/or start taking a Vitamin D supplement.

i have previously done an at-home test, called Thriva, which i would recommend to anyone. their baseline test is not cheap, but it will test cholesterol, liver function, iron, vitamin d and vitamin b12. i did this to check that my regular dose of vitamin d spray was working as i expected.

the vitamin d spray that i use now is a 3,000iu spray from BetterYou (UK/US) - it's not heaps expensive, but does seem to work and it's a much higher dose than a lot of the others. it tastes good too! if you haven't been diagnosed with a deficiency then i would recommend the Junior spray which is the UK government recommendation of 400ius (UK/US), or the 1,000ius is another lower dose option (UK/US).

i don't supplement hugely anymore in other areas, i try to get most of what i need from whole foods. but it's been medically proven that anyone living in the northern parts of the world need a little Vitamin D supplementation to keep them strong (see NHS, and BBC) during the winter months.

the other thing that i've been trying to do so far this year is to get outside, which you'll know if you read my last post about my 2019 intentions. even when it's super cold, we dress appropriately and we go outside. even for just a quick 30 minute walk around the block. it's important to have that regular practice throughout the year, because when the sunshine comes in the summer you'll want to get out in the sun as much as you can in good daylight hours to top up your vitamin d levels to a high level to last longer into the winter.

there's a great app called 'dminder' and it can tell you what the UV ratings are in your area at any moment in time, and can tell you when you'll next be able to get Vitamin D from the sun (45 days from today!!), as well as during the day how long you need to spend in the sun to get the amount you need that day / before you catch a sunburn. it's a fab free app!

plus the fresh air is also so important for your wellbeing, and the sunlight is great for helping set your circadian rhythms.

so those are my two best pieces of advice for anyone suffering from the winter blues:
 - get tested for Vitamin D deficiency and/or take Vitamin D supplements
 - get outside more! use the dminder app to get as much sun exposure as is safe.

another couple of extra things which i find help:
 - booking a holiday in the middle of winter, topping up those Vitamin D levels in a sunny foreign place will make a huge different to your levels through the rest of winter - however this isn't financially viable for everyone. we did this one year and it was a very happy year!
 - making sure that your lighting is warm and hygge (cosy). get some candles, light a fire, lay the lights low - follow the advice of wise Scandinavians who only have a couple of hours of light in the day. keeping things cosy helps tremendously.
 - i have never tried (but friends of mine have) a SAD lamp, but i will likely get one in years to come, because they're raved about.
 - get a dog if you struggle with the incentive to get outside!
 - eat healthily, don't let your health be compromised in other ways because you're feeling down. i know to be extra cautious in the winter months of incorporating veggies and fruit in reasonable quantities, and in nice warming, satisfying, wintery ways. and drink lots of herbal tea!

i hope this post is helpful! i'd love if you would share your tips, experience and advice in the comments below.

please note: i am not a doctor, and therefore none of this should be considered medical advice. this is not sponsored in any way.


  1. I've been using a vitamin D spray too recently and I think it has helped considerably. I also give the junior one to my 8 year old daughter. I'd also recommend 'bee energised' which is a supplement full of good stuff which just helps to lift the fog and gives a bit of a boost.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I'll have a look at Bee Energised, it sounds ideal for me :)


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