It’s Daniel once again, hopping into your life inbox on a Friday afternoon with a cup of [insert your favourite warm beverage] to say “hey… how are you doin’, kiddo?” No really… how are you doing? This time of year can be tricky for several reasons – it’s busy, over programmed, slightly (or very) stressful – but the biggest effect people notice is the drastic change in seasons.
Lately I’ve spoken to countless people about how we can help with the ‘winter blahs’ so I thought I’d share my own journey and what’s worked for me and many others. Shall we dive in?
Baby, It’s Cold (and Dark) Outside
First off, let’s address the chilly elephant in the room – winter. Shorter days, less sunlight, and the cold temps can really throw a wrench in our feel-good gears. It’s not just the inconvenience of finding matching mittens; our bodies and minds react dramatically to these changes.
Less light can mess with our circadian rhythms, leading to the winter blues, or as the experts call it, Seasonal Affective Disorder (with the extremely apt acronym SAD). I understand the lack of light is a natural cycle of the seasons, but it’s still pretty f’d up when you consider the sun sets at, like, 3:30pm.
We had the great fortune of living in California before we moved back to Canada, so there was a while there where the winter forecast was usually sunny with a chance of sweater weather. (Take me back!)
One major thing I was reminded of moving back to Collingwood was the physical changes that happen when the temperature drops. I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t even gotten that cold yet, and I’m already dreading the lower temperatures; that damp cold that makes your bones ache? Yea, it’s enough to make me want to stay in bed all day.
Think about it – we go from a loose, relaxed, warm and expanded state – to shivery, tense, cold, and contracted. If you consider how tight and stressed we can get through the winter months it can have a big effect on our physical and mental state – like we’re constantly bracing to get punched in the stomach.
Our first winter after moving back to Canada, I was so not looking forward to the cold, but luckily we invested in some really warm winter gear, and that made all the difference. As my late cousin used to wisely say “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a bad outfit”. So among other things, let’s embrace function over fashion and keep ourselves toasty so our nervous system doesn’t think we’re under attack from the abominable snowman.
The vortex effect
Believe it or not, it is possible to feel great during the shivery months. The winter of 2021/2022 before we opened Vortex, we were blessed to have access to the studio sessions before everyone else. I noticed that I didn’t really get that sense of seasonal depression through the winter months – and it wasn’t just because I was distracted building a wellness studio, it was because I was using it!
The biggest and most positive shifts I noticed were by using with 3 sessions: red light, infrared and NuCalm.
Red-y to feel good
Red light therapy can help combat SAD by giving you a dose of the light spectrum that’s missing on those short, gray days.
A) you’re getting some warmth in your bones and if feels great!
B) it’s a mood-boosting, energy-enhancing, cell-rejuvenating kind of light
C) the near infrared waves penetrate deep in your body to stimulate the production of happy hormones in your brain.
It’s like bringing a little slice of summer sunshine indoors while you soak up the rays in your birthday suit, right down to the cellular level.
Sweating while it’s snowing
The infrared session is another science-backed tool in our winter wellness arsenal. Unlike traditional saunas, which heat the air around you, infrared saunas heat your body from the inside out.
So, how does this help with SAD? The warmth from the infrared sauna aids in increasing blood flow and circulation, which not only helps with that cozy, enveloping warmth but also promotes relaxation and reduces muscle tension – which are common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety that often accompany SAD. There’s also a subsequent increase in endorphins (those lovely happy hormones), providing a natural mood boost and making the infrared sauna a comforting refuge from the cold, dreary days of winter.
Hibernation on demand
You’ve heard me go on and on about NuCalm in the past, but it really is the bees knees (are the kids saying that anymore? Or is it no longer 1936?”
NuCalm is your ticket to a serene mind. It’s like a power nap on steroids, minus the steroids. This session turns off your stress response and allows your brain to slip into a state of deep restorative calm. Think of it as a warm, soothing mental hot cocoa – minus the calories.
Not only does it reset your circadian rhythm and give you the benefits of 2-5 hours of sleep in one session, it provides and energetic disconnection between your brain and your body so matter what goes through your head, it can’t effect your physical body. Therefore, your body gets a restorative mini-hibernation session, regardless of what stresses you come into the session with.
Other ways to beat the blahs
If you can’t get into the studio to benefit from our wellness sessions, here’s a quick list of things you can do to keep yourself feeling great through the cold and dark days!
- Move your body – exercise creates endorphins!
- Create high-vibe playlists you can turn to on crummy day
- Watch comedy movies or hang out with your funniest friends!
- Supplement your body – visit a local health store and stock up.
- Focus on the things you like about winter (even if the only thing you like is that it’s temporary!)
And if none of that works, then maybe you should come hang out with us here.