How to Combat the Winter Blues

I lived in South Dakota for almost 6 years, and the winters there really rocked my world. Having only lived in California, I never spent much time in the snow prior, so learning how to live(and drive) in it was going to be a huge, new task for me. On top of acclimating to the snow, I also had to deal with the loss of sunlight once Daylight Savings came along in November. No matter where I lived though, the Winter Blues always made it’s yearly visit to me. I knew that my first winter there I was going to have to actively come up with ways to make it more manageable.

First, let’s discuss what Winter Blues is and the symptoms that come along with it.

“Winter Blues a non-medical diagnosis, characterized by feelings of depression or deep unhappiness associated with experiencing the cold and darkness of winter.”

Some symptoms may include: feelings of sadness, low energy, restlessness, & lack of motivation to complete some tasks, but are still able to handle major tasks such as going to work and taking care of the house.

After some research and conversations with folks in my community, I came to find 6 helpful tips to combat the Winter Blues: 

1. Re-decorate your space

With it being cold outside and the sun going down earlier in the day, you’ll most likely be spending more time inside your home. This is the perfect time to make your home as cozy and sacred as you can. Nothing is better than coming home to a place that is clean and arranged as you would like. You can do this with or without having to buy new things. Even just re-arranging your furniture in each room, or the one you spend the most time in, can make a big difference! 

2. Plan time with friends and loved ones

Staying consistent with planning time with friends and loved ones can help immensely. If distance is a factor, thank goodness for technology; you can still set up weekly phone/Facetime calls. Connection is so important even when we feel like hibernating from the world.

3. Eat Well

It’s so easy to overeat and/or eat “unhealthy” during this time of the year- the holidays bring so many comfort food opportunities! And yes, please indulge when you’d like, but continuing a healthy diet throughout the winter makes a huge difference. And since you will be home more, this is a great opportunity to learn new winter recipes. There are many serotonin boosting foods we can incorporate into our daily meals that will help stabilize our mood throughout the day. (Read our Serotonin Boosting Recipes Blog!)

4. Start a new hobby or pick one back up

One of my favorite hobbies is beading, but during the spring and summer, I’m not wanting to do it as much because I’d rather be moving around outside. So in the winter I really indulge in it, because it’s a perfect hobby to do inside. Other good winter hobbies could include knitting, reading, doing puzzles, playing board games, journaling, yoga, or binge watching a show or two. No shame in your hobby game!

5. Get your daily Vitamin D each day through sunlight, food, and supplements

It is said that about 1 billion people in the world are Vitamin D deficient. A 2013 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry looked at research involving a total of 31,424 people and found that having low levels of vitamin D increased the risk for depression.

About 50% to 90% of Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlight while the rest comes from the diet. Twenty minutes of sunshine daily with over 40% of skin exposed is required to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.

If you have a spot in your house that gets good lighting, put a chair, rug, or pillow in that spot and sit there for as long as you like. You can stretch, read, or do any other activity to increase your time in that sunspot. If you can also do this at your place of work as well, that’s even better!
Nowadays there are sun lamps/lights that folks can purchase and set up in their house if they are unable to get natural sunlight throughout the day. You sit directly in front of the light for the recommended time, and boom, you got your daily recommended Vitamin D for the day!
And of course, another way to get Vitamin D is from the foods you eat and/or supplements. Supplementing your Vitamin D daily ensures you get your Vitamin D, whether or not you can get sunlight during the day.

6. Hug friends, family, and/or pets more

Physical contact stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, dopamine, & oxytocin, hormones that play an important role to our well-beings. So hug a loved one, pets included! (My dream is to book an hour-long session at the Gentle Barn, in Southern California where I can hug and meditate with a cow and other farm animals. Just thinking about this is giving me a serotonin boost!)

Hugs are free and you can do it for as long as you’d like! It is recommended to hug for at least 30 seconds. 

Deepen your practice with Hugging Meditation.

Let’s be clear though, Winter Blues should not get confused with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of clinical depression that is a more severe experience of winter blues. If you find it difficult to maintain relationships, complete work, or manage daily tasks, please reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional for help.

We’ve already made it past the shortest day of the year, so it’s only up from here!

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Support (Y)our Local Food Security Organizations

support (y)our local food security Organizations

 As of October 2022, grocery store prices are 5.3% higher than they were a year ago. To put this in perspective, during the decade prior to the start of the pandemic the average annual increase in grocery store prices were only about 1.3%.

Supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and Climate Change are some of the major leading factors for why we are seeing such high inflation increases.

Because of this, more people are struggling to get access to food, resulting in more folks experiencing food insecurity.

 

Food-insecure is defined by households that are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, at some time during the year, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.

There are many non-profits and charities that are working to address food insecurity and increase food sovereignty

We’re highlighting a few of the local organizations here in Davis and two in Sacramento, giving details on when and where they distribute food if you or someone you know is in need.

All of these local organizations are best supported through volunteering, donations of food and financial donations, and spreading the word to members of the community. Links will be included for both volunteering and donating options for each organization.

The Night Market 

Established in 2019, The Night Market’s mission is to reduce food waste and increase food security in Davis while fostering a sense of community. They recover food that would otherwise go to waste from Davis restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. They also have a focus on sustainability by prioritizing bikes equipped with carts to transport food, to minimize their carbon emissions.

They provide the free meals Monday-Friday, from 9pm- 11pm in Central Park and is available for anyone that is in need. 

For the times that they have leftovers, they package the remaining food in compostable containers and drop them off at the Freedge that is hosted at the Davis Food Co-op.

 

 

Davis Food Not Bombs/Sacramento Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer movement that recovers food that would otherwise be discarded, and shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities in 65 countries in protest to war, poverty, and destruction of the environment. There are two local Food Not Bombs, one in Davis and one in Sacramento.

Davis Food Not Bombs serves meals every 2nd and 4th Sundays
at Central Park (4th & C) from 1-2pm

If you’re interested in getting involved, send them an email at [email protected], message them on Instagram or Facebook.

Sacramento Food Not Bombs serves a free vegan meal every Sunday at 1:30pm at Cesar Chavez Plaza (Between 9th & 10th and I and J Street)

If you’d like to volunteer with Sacramento Food Not Bombs or make a donation of food or funds, please contact us at [email protected]yahoo.com for more information.

Both will also accept anyone to just show up at the serving times and chat with them to discuss ways you can get involved.

 

NorCal Resist

Established in 2016, NorCal Resist fights injustices through making a positive impact in their communities. They host educational events and trainings, organize actions, and maintain a variety of resources and programs that provide support to those in need.

NorCal Resist does food distribution in several ways – Monthly drive thru distributions where they partner with the Sacramento Food Bank, a community table at their monthly brake light clinics, and direct deliveries to their community at home, as needed. They have a Mutual Aid Farm, Seeds of Solidarity, which has distributed over 1,800 pounds of organic food to the community so far this year.

Dates, times, and locations of their distribution programs can be found through their Instagram.

More information to volunteer for one of their programs can be found here.
Donate here

 

Fourth and Hope

Fourth & Hope serves dinner each night at 5 p.m. to anyone in need of a hot meal. Breakfast and lunch are offered to clients staying at the shelter. Location is 1901 E Beamer St, Woodland, CA 95776

Information on volunteering can be found here

Purchase items from their wishlist here.

Donate here

Yolo Food Bank

Yolo Food Bank coordinates the recovery, storage, and distribution of more than 11 million pounds of food annually. They collaborate with a network of grocers and retailers, farmers and distributors, the private sector and governmental agencies, and 64 nonprofit partner organizations countywide. They distribute food through these 4 programs:

Eat Well Yolo
Providing weekly distributions of fresh produce, dairy,
meat, and other non-perishable goods.

Eat Home Yolo
Delivering groceries to low income senior citizens, people with disabilities, or mobility-restricted neighbors.

Kids Farmers Market
Supporting elementary-school-aged children’s access to local produce and nutrition education.

Nonprofit Partners
Supplying fresh produce, shelf-stable food, and personal care products to 64+ nonprofit partners countywide.

You can volunteer individually or in a group to pack food, distribute food, and/or volunteer as a driver. Find all this information on volunteering here.

Find food near you
Donate here

 

The Pantry

Many students at UC Davis find themselves choosing between basic essentials such as food and hygiene products and the required costs of college. It is for this reason that The Pantry was established in 2010 to help offset these financial burdens and ensure that students may continue on to successfully complete and obtain their degrees.

The Pantry is open to all students, staff, and faculty at UC Davis. This also includes graduate, PhD, and postdoctoral students, serving folks of all levels of income and need.

Their current Fall 2022 Schedule is:

Monday & Wednesday & Friday: 10:30am – 4:00pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 9:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00pm – 2:00pm

While walk-ins are welcome, they also have an online portal to order non-perishable items in advance, and have a digital list, that is updated hourly, to show what perishable items they currently have.

They have volunteer opportunities for student, which more information can be found here.

Donate Here

More than 90% of funding for The Pantry comes from community donations. 

Davis Community Meals and Housing

Davis Community Meals and Housing offers a free meal on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and lunch on Saturday from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, located at 640 Hawthorn Lane, Davis, CA 95616.

The food is prepared and served by individual community volunteers, religious organizations, school groups, UC Davis and community service groups, and many others.

Volunteers help prepare the meals, set up the dining hall, serve the meals and clean up the kitchen and hall at the conclusion of the meal. Volunteers are needed from 9 am to 11:30 am and from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Tuesdays and from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays.

Find more information on Volunteering here

Purchase items from their wish list

Donate Here

The Freedge

The Freedge aims to reduce food insecurity and food waste, while simutaneously building a stronger, more sustainable community. They promote equal access to healthy food through the installation of community freedges (public refrigerators) that are for anyone who is in need within the community.

There are currently 5 Freedges throughout Davis:

Davis Food Co-op 

UCD Memorial Union

UCD Silo

1221 Eureka Ave

2013 Whittier Dr

Perishable and non-perisable items can be dropped off by anyone from the community (excluding raw meat or alcohol).

“Take what you need, give what you don’t.”

Freedge Locations Map

Donate Here 

There isn’t one solution to food insecurity, but many. It requires an approach that includes government policy, better housing, employment opportunities, social assistance, training and education, affordable fresh food markets, and more.

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Staff Resources at the Co-op

Cooperative Principle #5 is Education, Training, and Information. Meaning that the Davis Food Co-op is responsible for educating, training, and informing our owners, shoppers, and staff on related matters inside and outside the store.

In today’s blog, we will be discussing some of the many resources we have available for all staff at the Co-op to strengthen their knowledge.

 

Online Human Resource Portal

Through our online portal, we can assign staff newsletters, department specific newsletters, and staff specific trainings as a convenient way to communicate store operations updates and other forms of education to all staff members.

 

Co+op U

Through NCG (National Cooperative Grocers), there are provided trainings intended to enhance the skills, knowledge, and learning ability of co-op employees. In this online learning management system, co-op staff can learn best practices for a wide variety of content areas, including de-escalation of difficult situations with customers, supervisory skills, understanding financial statements, marketing, etc.

 

 

 

Books

We have a mini library in the co-op’s staff break room, ranging from recipe books, books about Cooperatives (beyond food co-ops), the Agriculture Industry, etc.

Right now some Co-op staff have been reading Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies by Seth M. Holmes which exposes the structural violence inherent in the migrant labor system in the United States and the need for Farm Worker justice now. ⁠

Guides

We educate and inform our staff and through pamphlets on seasonal produce, how to store your produce, biking guides, and many more. (These guides are also provided for owners/customers, placed throughout the Co-op).

Read about the other Cooperative Principles here.

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