Adrien Cotton, MASTER Menopause NOW!

Lighten Up Those Winter Blues

With spring just around the corner, we’re finally experiencing earlier sunrises and later sunsets, but the clouds and dreary winter cold still surround us. Ugh… the impact of countless days without sunshine can deeply affect our mood.

Our tendency to huddle indoors during the colder months means we are spending less and less time in the sunshine. And for those of us in perimenopause and menopause, lack of sun can exacerbate our symptoms.

Lighten Up Those Winter Blues

Sunshine is vital to our health. It is also one of the most efficient ways our bodies make vitamin D. I could elaborate on the scientific process of how UV B radiation from the sun activates 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin which then isomerizes…. But let’s keep it simple. Cholesterol in the skin converts sunlight into an early form of vitamin D that is sent to the liver and kidneys for processing. It’s like a vitamin D production line.

Some of the main symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are depression, anxiety, body aches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, forgetfulness, and loss of bone health. Does any of this sound familiar? As a women’s midlife wellness expert, I can tell you that all of these conditions rank high on the list of menopausal symptoms.

Not coincidentally, some women report an increase in menopausal symptoms during the cold winter months, such as increased aches and pains, dry skin, and sleeplessness. The double whammy of less vitamin D and decreasing estrogen can exacerbate existing menopausal symptoms (so not fair, I know).

There are steps we can take to make those winter blues more manageable.

1. Stick to your sleep schedule.

This is even more important when the shorter days and less sunlight mess with your sleep-wake cycle. Keeping a consistent bedtime and waketime will keep your body attuned to your sleep routine, making it easier to wake up before the sun has even peeked over the horizon.

Wake Up And Beat Those Winter Blues Today!

As I have said time and time again, sleep is super important for women when managing their menopause journey. Sleep affects everything from body recovery to mental alertness. It should be something that everyone, not just menopausal women, takes seriously.

2. During sunny days, bask in the sunlight.

OK, I know it can be tough to enjoy the sun when it’s below freezing. However, a quick 15-minute walk can be enough to capture those nourishing sun rays. Plus, the more skin you can expose the better. If the weather permits, consider lowering your hood or removing your gloves. Even if you must stay bundled up, the walk will do you good.

3. When sunlight is scarce, consider light therapy

During this time of winter, the dark, dreary days seem to hang on like a cheap suit. When outside simply isn’t an option, try light therapy. Light therapy lamps can provide the few minutes of the “sunlight” we need to keep our vitamin D factory functioning. They come in both tabletop and floor lamp models and can easily be integrated into your home decor.

Light Therapy

4. Make time for your own wellness

Set aside time to make some comforting stews and chilis to unfreeze on those cold stormy nights. Treat yourself to a warm bath. My personal favorite is my Epsom salt bath at night. The beauty of winter is that it does encourage a quieting from the busyness, and that can be a positive thing for our physical and mental health.

If you feel like you’d like some connection during these cold winter days, consider my Small Group Concierge Wellness program. Here you will find support for your menopausal journey as well as some good humor and fun—exactly what the doldrums of winter ordered.

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