By Alisa-Jayne Butler
Whist we are over the hump of the winter season, we are still looking down the barrel of colder weather, shorter days and lack of sunlight and while I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to defrosting when Spring comes around – there are some pointers that can be followed to help survive the icy tail-wind of the last couple of winter months
Remind yourself that it's not just you
There really is such a thing as the ‘winter blues’ or ‘seasonal depression’, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Many people can be negatively affected by the changing seasons and darkening of the summer light. They feel depressed, irritable, and tired. Their activity levels decrease and they find themselves in bed more often.
It can be hard to get out of the bed in the morning when the weather makes you feel like a sleepy sack of potatoes. For me personally, when I wake up in the morning and its dark and the air is really chilly, all I want to do is stay tucked in under the doona and snuggle in with my cat!
We all need to be realistic and remind ourselves that we’re not the only ones that feel this way as we peel ourselves out of bed on those crisp, chilly mornings.
Move your body
This has nothing to do with weight-loss and everything to do with feeling pumped up and warmed up! We all need to really value physical activity and be really consistent with it to gain all the benefits that it brings. Physical activity is a potent and underutilised antidepressant... and it’s free! Physical activity doesn’t have to mean “go to the gym for an hour”, you could go for a bike ride with a friend, take the dog for a brisk walk around the block or jump on any equipment you might have at home.
When it’s freezing and dark, I really yearn to cuddle up inside and indulge in some ‘comfort food’ such as hot chocolate or freshly baked brownies... and I bet I’m not the only one! Unfortunately these types of foods can also make you feel super lethargic. While you don’t necessarily want to avoid carbohydrates all together, grains like brown rice and wheat germ are packed with goodness, getting full on fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and proteins that trigger a release of serotonin will keep you feeling great and happy!
Identify your happy scents
You’ll already have your own list of favourites, but certain fragrances can also be triggers for feeling more alert, awake and happy.
Citrus scents (especially lemon) and peppermint can make you feel alert and decrease anxiety
Floral scents like jasmine and rose increases positive moods
Lavender and chamomile, while calming, can make you super sleepy
If you want any more information or if you’d like to try some aromatherapy out, come into the clinic and check out our new Doterra range of 100% pure essential oils. We also run workshops to give people tips on using aromatherapy in your own home, make sure you are on our email list to receive an invitation to our next workshop!
Mix up your environment
I don’t mean to force yourself in go outside even if it’s freezing, but actually sometimes people really do just need a change of scenery.
This could be achieved by ducking out to a local cafe to grab a warm tea during your break, or going to a friend’s house for a catch up and a laugh.
Load up on vitamin D whenever you can
Vitamin D is considered the ‘sunshine vitamin’, as we need sunshine to hit our skins in order for us to process and utilise this vitamin. So, not surprisingly, that come winter we’re kind of lacking in this vitamin. A couple of tips for boosting your vitamin D level include:
If you have time in your lunch break to step outside – do!
At home open your blinds and curtains whenever possible to allow as much light in as you can
10 minutes of midday sun exposure can give you the dose of vitamin D you need
Taking a vitamin D supplement can also help a lot – contact the clinic and we can see if there’s a vitamin D supplement that would be suitable for you
Keep track of your sleeping pattern
Just as exercise and nutrition is necessary for optimal health and happiness so too is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!
Try to get in the right amount of sleep for your body: not too much, not too little. There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. Just because you're able to operate on six hours of sleep doesn't mean you wouldn't feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed. While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Keeping your sleep schedule consistent can also eliminate a lot of changes in your energy level from day – to – day.
Hopefully these tips will help you survive the rest of winter – if you feel that you might need a helping hand give us a call at the clinic on (02) 6021 0557 to see either Diedre or myself and we’ll be happy to give you a hand in achieving optimal health during the chilly months