How to Naturopathically Prepare for Winter in Vancouver (aka Raincouver)
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Summer in Vancouver is one the best times of the year (obviously) with its endless hikes, park hang options and patios to choose from. As we wind into Autumn then to winter and the rain sets in along with darker mornings I see many of my patients struggling to find rhythm and ease.
Feelings of apathy, tension or increased fatigue are all common as our bodies adjust to a new season and knowledge of what's to come - more rain! Below are a few things that can be helpful to embrace the winter months.
1. Accept that summer is over and dig into what winter has to offer
While yes summer is often a blast, it is also busy as heck, hot and endless in the pressure that we should be 'doing something' every weekend or day it is sunny.
Winter is naturally a time to wind-down, to conserve, to turn in. Think about all the animals that hibernate! I like to think of ways I'll cozy in or start new projects that were put to the side in the busyness of summer - like sewing, watercolour painting or reading/re-reading a book series.
I make space to journal and write down bits of my summer to remember, or to reflect on. Also - and most importantly - note what feelings are coming up that aren't feeling great. Why do I feel more down, am I distracting myself with too much Netflix or is it the fact that I don't see my friends as easily with torrential downpours inhibiting park hangs?
2. Create and clean space
Tidy up, organize and put away the summer's artifacts so your space is conducive for cozy settling in, not reminding you that you were on a floaty on a lake a couple months ago, basking in the sun...
Bring out warm blankets, slippers and other soft things to snuggle into.
Light candles when the day gets darker sooner.
3. Consider using a Bright Light Therapy lamp
These are specific lamps that have lumen (brightness value) of at least 10,000 lux. Many studies have shown the benefit to regulate circadian rhythms, improve mood and general feelings of wellness in darker months. To use: position the lamp at a 45 degree angle to your face (not pointing directly into your eyes) while reading a book or working at your desk. Ideally positioned 2 feet away used for 20-30 minutes every morning (not after 2PM as this will affect your sleep).
4. Support basics of health
Move your body! Just because we're speaking of cozying in doesn't mean you should park yourself on your couch until spring. While you may not feel energized for big workouts or activities outside, tune into more gentle forms of exercise like yoga, pilates or basic at home workouts. Even walking counts! 30 minutes of some form of movement daily is all you need.
Eat + drink well. Make hearty soups with squash, bone broth, mushrooms for added immune benefit. As tempting as it is to have a big glass of wine everyday, no doubt it may add up to drain your energy more than you think. Warm teas and water are best choices.
Consider your vitamin D status. We naturally make vitamin D via sunshine on our skin but obviously with the shorter days and less intense sun rays, we become at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for mood health, immune and energy function in the winter so do not under estimate the power of this vitamin! It is best to test to see what your blood levels are before you consider supplementing so speak to your doctor.
If after these basics you are still feeling low and things aren't budging, speak to your doctor or Naturopath about the possibility of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affecting your mood. While common, especially in Vancouver, there are many treatments to support you.