Remember when you were a kid? Wintertime meant snowmen and ice-skating, sleigh rides and hot chocolate. There were also those questions adults would ask to bring us down to earth, such as: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you recall the answer(s) you gave? Did you realize those dreams or, perhaps dream new ones and make them come true? If the answer is “no” to both, you might blame that for your winter blues. The truth is, nothing about those questions or their answers is to blame.
When the sun sets earlier and rises later, we have more time to ponder what our dreams were, how they might have changed, and how they may or may not have been fulfilled. Shorter days and longer nights can be cozy for some, yet spiritually or even physically uncomfortable for others. If it isn’t because of anything we did or didn’t accomplish in life, why would we feel ‘blue’ during that time of year? And, of greater significance: can anything be done to remedy it? The answer to the first will become clear in a minute. The answer to the second is YES. Read on.
Even for those who fulfilled all their dreams and are exactly where they want and need to be at this very moment, lack of sunlight can trigger an imbalance called SAD – or, “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It’s a type of depression related to lack of sunlight. It seems to creep in slowly, until by the time January rolls around, the afflicted feel blue and down most of the time. February exacerbates it and, by that time, those who go for a blood test – at least here in the Northeast, often learn their Vitamin D values are way below optimal levels.
Health care providers in the Northeast generally suggest a form of Vitamin D (either D2 – ergocalciferol, or D3 - cholecalciferol) supplementation for patients, in order to prepare and control for this. Vitamin D plays many roles in wellness. It is important for the immune system, building bone, maintaining mood, and lots of other things – but there are reasons why you should not supplement with it unless first discussing with your doctor. Among the most essential is that there are different forms and amounts. In addition, there may be other supplements – among them: probiotics and/or Vitamin K (either K1 or K2), that your doctor might feel you need to help the Vitamin D work well for you. Your doctor can guide you regarding amounts and choices, since you are unique and you might do better with different forms and amounts of various vitamins and supplements than would your relative or friend. This is determined by your body chemistry, the function of your liver and kidneys, and also impacted by any daily medications – prescribed or over-the-counter.
Keep in mind: Seasonal Affective Disorder is an equal opportunity offender. It may affect those who realized every childhood dream as well as those whose desires seemed to slip through their fingers. It makes otherwise happy and content people feel blue as it drags energy down, and hangs as a shadow of doom and gloom, which seems to magically lift once the body is exposed to longer days of increasing sunshine. If you typically experience a ‘funk’ when winter rolls around, you are not alone. There is help out there and your doctor can make recommendations including but not limited to special light bulbs, yoga poses, dietary supplements and even foods to add and avoid – all of which may be able to assist you through the short days of January through March. This is your life and sacred journey. All choices made and avoided are yours. Here’s to wellness, joy, peace and centering of spirit for you and all lives you touch.
"Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World,” which streams live on the Marcy’s World Facebook page. Email your questions to: DrIankowitz@yahoo.com. For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit www.DrIankowitz.com online.”