While our versions of healthy may come in different textures, shapes, and sizes, the definition of what it means to be healthy remains the same from one person to the next: to be in a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit.

But what really is “harmony”? In music, it’s the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords that sound pleasing to the ear. In simpler terms, it’s the agreement or accord of two or more things like the perfect mix of fruits and vegetables in your morning smoothie. Everything works together deliciously.

When you imagine all the moving parts of life from work to family to mental health (and much more), achieving harmony or that perfect mix might seem daunting, but there are small ways to chip away at any goal. Plus, you might find comfort in knowing that while we sometimes have to aid the process of getting our bodies, minds, and spirits on one accord, the harmony of health is actually a natural phenomenon.

A simple example: How your physical, mental, and spiritual health all affect one another. Understanding that connectedness empowers us to take control of our health and the quality of our lives.

Applying it to Your Lives Today

As you continue being more intentional about your mental health and life goals, consider how small adjustments to your physical life can supplement your holistic wellness.

Every year, five to ten percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression also known as the “winter blues”. Seasonal depression typically begins in the fall and continues into the winter months. While it most commonly affects people with depression and bipolar disorder, weather and lifestyle changes that occur during the winter can affect all our moods if we’re not intentional about it managing them.

Aside from being social, exercising indoors, trying new fun fitness activities like rock climbing, indoor swimming, and kickboxing, and seeking mental health support for your winter blues, a way to improve your mood and combat seasonal depression is by increasing your vitamin D intake.

How Weather Affects Your Mood

Not only is each of our bodies, minds, and spirits connected to one another, but we are connected to the environment, and it can affect us physiologically. It’s the reason gloomy days make us tired and summer days make us want to dance.  Seasonal depression is more common in the winter because there are fewer hours of sunlight and less time spent outside. This decreased exposure starts in autumn.

Why Weather Affects Your Mood

The sun is a major source of the body’s vitamin D and supports the

  • Immune system
  • Brain
  • Nervous system
  • Lungs and
  • Cardiovascular health

Since your mood, energy, and ability to cope with stress are regulated by these parts of the body, vitamin D deficiency can lead to:

  • Mood changes
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of interest
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to

  • Low bone density
  • Bone softening
  • Heart disease
  • Rickets in children
  • Cancer

Where to Get Vitamin D When the Sun’s Not Out

Having a vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of seasonal depression. It is most prevalent among African Americans, infants and children under five years of age, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people aged over 65 years, people who have limited exposure to sunshine.

If you have been diagnosed or are at risk of seasonal depression and/or a vitamin D deficiency, be proactive this year in armoring yourself against the physical and mental effects.

Continue consulting your physician, your mental health provider, journaling, exercising, and eating healthy. Incorporate foods and supplements naturally-rich in vitamin D like cod liver oil, canned wild tuna, eggs, mushrooms, sardines and salmon into your diet or, less ideal, fortified foods like orange juice and cereal.