Friends, I’m going to take a break from the discussion of fun stuff like my SJP brunch and lighted vanity mirrors to talk about something rather serious.

Few people know this — I cover surprisingly well — but I suffer from the “winter blues”, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder.

Go Lite Bl

While many people enjoy the snowfall and crisp cold weather in the cooler months, an estimated 10-20 percent of Americans (that’s MILLIONS) experience some form of winter blues, a phenomenon that results from of a decrease in sunlight as the days become shorter. The winter blues can affect people differently, but there are some common symptoms such as low energy, sleeping problems, mood swings, difficulty with concentration and increased appetite.

Mine is really bad — during the winter, I get moody and sullen — almost like perpetual PMS, lose my appetite and yet somehow gain weight. (Probably because I crave the wrong foods when I do eat…and drink), and have terrible insomnia. I am sad to say, that at this point, my especially bad bout of it this season has led to more than one of my friends thinking I am ever-so-slightly unstable. What’s interesting is what for several years I’ve chalked up to birthday or holiday blues is probably not remotely about that — it’s just chalked up to the season.

The good news is that many people can overcome the winter blues using methods, including increased light exposure. You can get a natural boost of energy in as little as 15 minutes a day with Philips goLITE BLU, a portable therapy light product that features breakthrough technology to provide the blue light we need to get through the day.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to chat with Oz Garcia, PH.D., a highly regarded nutritional counselor and life extension specialist who prescribes goLITE BLU to many of his patients. He walked me through tips to help fight the winter blues, and I was then sent a unit to try in my own life. Some of his advice in dealing with this problem?

  • Increase your activity level (this means MOVE your body. Get outdoors in the morning for 20-45 minutes. I work and live in the same studio apartment, and sometimes never see daylight or crack a window. This is a big part of my problem.)
  • Eat a well balanced diet. Also consider increasing your consumption of complex carbohydrates and foods rich in Vitamin D. These help provide mood-lifting energy.In summary, you need: Complex carbs (brown rice, squash, beans), Vitamin D (for your immune system), and Omega 3 foods (seafood). The winter blues make you crave refined carbs (sweets!!) which give you a quick energy boost followed by a crash. It’s almost like a drug!
  • Use a light energy device with the appropriate light (a light that provides a blue wavelength). Research shows that blue light helps to restore the essential light signals needed to boost our mood and energy levels naturally. It can also mimic the effect of sunlight indoors.

I’m going to start trying it this week – it’s high time! – but I’d love to be able to pay it forward and help one of you as well. So, if you too suffer from the winter blues, please comment below and tell me your story. One reader will win a GoLite Blu of their very own! Earn extra entries by RT-ing this contest on Twitter (I’m @alywalansky), and commenting on any earlier entries from the past week. Deadline to enter is March 1. Good luck, and be well!