The short, dark days of winter….for many it means the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
One of the main reasons for SAD is due to less Vitamin D3 from sunlight. Sunlight is needed for your body to make Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 has been shown to help with many health issues and one of them is depression. And even though D3 is called a vitamin it actually is a steroid hormone and therefore supports other hormones in the body.
Another potential cause for “winter blues” is that less sunlight affects our circadian rhythm which is our biological clock that controls brain activity and hormones. When this rhythm is off it can affect sleep and energy.
Here are some tips to help beat the blues.
1. Support the body’s Vitamin D3. Besides sunlight, we can get D3 from foods sources and supplementation. Vitamin D3 is primarily found in fish such as salmon, swordfish and tuna. It is also found in eggs and yogurt. It’s important to get your Vitamin D3 tested before supplementing. Since D3 is a steroid hormone it can take up to 7 days for your body to convert supplemental D3 into the body’s usable form.
2. Enjoy an Infrared Sauna session. Infrared light (experienced as heat) is the invisible part of the sun’s spectrum with the ability to penetrate human tissue, giving a soothing, natural warmth. By heating the body’s core it can raise metabolism therefore supporting energy and hormone function.
3. Use a full spectrum light box to support your body’s internal clock. Circadian Optics is a brand I have personally used. Using the light box for as little as 15 minutes each morning can support your mood and energy. For those that have adrenal fatigue and low cortisol in the morning this can help production.
4. Get a B12 Injection. Vitamin B12 can be low due to poor digestion, not eating enough animal protein, or for genetic reasons. Vitamin B12 can increase energy, improve mood and sleep. It’s best for most to get the active form of B12 which is methylcobalamin. Book your B12 injection today.
5. Use essential oils. Peppermint oil has been shown to boost energy and improve mood. Citrus essential oils such as lemon are also uplifting. Essential oils can be applied topically or simply diffused.
6. Do yoga. A great way to get some movement, help with stress, and balance your brain is yoga. The breathing with movement in yoga supports the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system which is our “rest and renew” branch so you will feel less stressed.
7. Stay hyrdrated. The brain is 70% water, therefore it is sensitive to dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces. If you drink a lot of caffeine you will need to drink more water due to caffeine’s diuretic qualities. Keep in mind caffeine has a negative impact on your nervous system so can affect your mood.
8. Eat Good Fats. 50-60% of the “dry” weight of your brain is fat, 35% being omega 3. Sources are fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts
9. Consume foods high in tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation and appetite control. Examples are nuts and seeds, natural cheese, animal protein (Lamb, beef, chicken, fish & shellfish, pork), whole eggs, beans and lentils.
Finding ways to beat the winter blues and increase energy levels during this season can be challenging. Following these simple steps can help you make the most of it but please contact us if we can help.
Dr. Melanie MacLaren is a naturopathic doctor and registered yoga teacher. She founded Dragonfly 360 Yoga & Wellness to help individuals with chronic health issues using naturopathic medicine and yoga.
Her experience in the natural health field ranges from working with individuals on various health issues — such as chronic stress, fatigue, insomnia, allergies, hormone imbalances, and digestive issues.