Friday, December 18, 2009
COMBATING WINTER BLUES
Happy Friday, Gorgeous!
I have to share with you that earlier this week; I was not feeling too happy. As a matter of fact, I felt downright blue as if there was some veil of sadness trying to creep up on me. Now I don't know about you but it sucks to feel sad or moody. So me being me, decided to analyze some things that may have been contributing to this feeling. First, I accepted that I needed to keep up the consistency in working out. I love to exercise, especially with company like a class. So I decided to keep up my with my workout classes at the gym that I’m a member of. Secondly, I’ve decided to be a stickler about keeping away from the holiday food that is prevalent right now. I’m sure you know, but I’ve had plenty of moments when I’ve wanted and succumbed to slice of pie, cake, cookies or peanut M&M’s. Remember, sugar will do the body bad. And a sucky diet sucks the life out of you—literally. Thirdly, make sure I get out in the sunlight, breathe and move. I don’t know about you, but the sun always makes me feel warm and lovely. Fourthly, get back on top of my daily affirmations. And lastly, stay prayerful.
Now, those were just some things that I made up my mind to do personally, but here is some more information on this issue and holistic ways to combat & defeat it.
I found that this feeling of sadness is not uncommon during the Fall and Winter seasons. It is often referred to as S.A.D.
What is S.A.D. or (seasonal affective disorder)?
Basically, it is a susceptibility to depression because of the shorter days and lack of sunlight. Some look upon S.A.D. as more of a theory regarding the decrease of sunlight in the colder months. According to health professionals, our bodies produce more melatonin (a hormone) with the increase in darkness during the fall and winter and that makes us sleepier. We translate that sleepiness as depression in our fast-paced lifestyles. Sunlight helps to boost serotonin production, the neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel calm and happy. With the shorter days, we create less serotonin, therefore are left feeling anxious and depressed. When this happens, our brains feel out of balance and in an effort to restore balance, we sometimes reach for food that will quickly boost serotonin production and begin self medicating with sugar. It is a vicious cycle because sugar ultimately makes it worse.
HERE ARE SOME HOLISTIC REMEDIES:
Eat Root Vegetables and Veggies that grow close to the ground: A desire to eat sugar to soothe ourselves is energetically linked to a desire to feel grounded. Think about it: we are anxious, stressed and with the flurry of activity, often un-tethered. When we eat sugar we are looking to feel calm and less frazzled. A wonderful way to offer your body what it needs on a regular basis, thereby offsetting the cravings for sugar is through root vegetables. Winter diets should always include yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, butternut squash and pumpkin. Not surprisingly, these are the very vegetables that are in season during this time of the year. All of these vegetables contain a subtle sweetness that when eaten regularly offer your body the ingredients it needs to maintain healthy serotonin levels thereby offsetting sugar cravings. Additionally, they grow in the ground or close to the earth, providing an energetic sense of groundedness. Try to have a serving a day of these vegetables. If you have limited time for cooking, check out Pacific brand organic soups. They have butternut squash, carrot and sweet potato. Have a bowl a day as part of a meal.
Take flax: Flax seed is a plant based source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and quite effective in its serotonin boosting properties. Flax is available in liquid, ground seeds, capsules and whole seeds. By far the most effective way to take it is in liquid form. Take one tablespoon per one hundred pounds of body weight. If you are quite depressed and anxious, you may want to go a bit beyond that initially to get a handle on your mood. You can use the oil as your salad dressing or add to already cooked food (do not cook with this oil. It is sensitive and can become rancid upon heating). Another great way to get your flax is with the ground seeds. Keep in mind that you need to take 3 tablespoons of ground seeds to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil. Add to oatmeal or cereal, sprinkle on salads or add to a little bit of juice. Another possibility is doing a combination of both the oil and the ground seeds. As for capsules, you need to take 12 capsules to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil, so that is not an option I recommend. And the whole seeds will only be effective as a laxative and will not help with mood.
Eliminate sugar: The reason that sugar helps to calm you down is that the insulin rush that accompanies sugar consumption floods out competing amino acids and allows tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, to win the absorption race. While sugar may give you immediate relief from stress and anxiety because of the intense flood of serotonin that it unleashes, anything that goes up that high must come down and when it does it usually crashes. When you self medicate with sugar you are setting yourself up to feel depressed, anxious and sad in a vicious, ever changing cycle. It will feel hard to get a handle on your emotions and then as your waistline expands from the extra calories and insulin rush, this will add to your already compromised mood. Eliminating sugar will allow you to feel steady, balanced, calm and happy. You will find that while the external factors are the same, and nothing at work or at home has changed, your ability to deal with it all has. These suggestions will also help to contribute to a happy mood and a healthier body.
Walk in Sunlight: Take a walk on your lunch-break and get outside as much as possible when the sun is shining. Every ray of sunshine delivers a serotonin hit and the 5-minute outdoor break will probably go a long way towards promoting a sense of calm. If this doesn’t feel like enough, consider investing in a light box and getting some serious, at home light therapy.
Get a great nights sleep: Take a hot bath with lavender oil, and rub lavender oil on the soles of your feet as well. Drink some sleepy time tea and tuck into bed for a cozy night’s sleep.
You can also experiment with calming teas like Yogi Tea – Bedtime, which is a blend of Chamomile, Valerian, St. John’s Wort, Passion Flower and Skullcap. Calming herbal teas can help ease anxiety and bring the peace of mind you need at the end of the evening to get to sleep. The ritual of making your tea and then settling into your comfy spot to sip the tea and read can become a wonderful new winter tradition for you. Rituals have a profound influence on our mood, and finding one you feel positive about can help you overcome any bad mood.
Take a daily vitamin with magnesium, B complex, and minerals. Eat more salads and fruits.
Minimize/eliminate the intake of caffeine (and that includes tea.) Drink the herbal tea instead.
Exercise: In study after study, the research shows that exercise is as effective as antidepressants in managing mood. Even if it is a brisk walk three times a walk, moving your body will help you feel balanced, confident and help your mind feel steady and calm. And walking out doors will further contribute to serotonin production.
Full Spectrum Light Therapy: It has no precise scientific definition, but generally describes light bulbs that produce light that has certain desirable qualities that make it similar to natural sunlight. Like natural daylight, full spectrum light bulbs produce light that is seen by the human eye in a bluish white tint. The brightness value of the light is similar to that of daylight, and the bulbs have excellent color rendering capability.
Full spectrum light bulbs, since they mimic the qualities of natural sunlight, are very appropriate for individuals who suffer from Seasonal Affective Syndrome (SAD). Natural daylight has always had desirable qualities, and is often recommended for improving mood and motivation.
You can find full spectrum light bulbs online, or at your local stores like Home Depot and Lowes. You can also try alarm clocks that use full spectrum light. Minutes before the alarm is set to go off, a full spectrum light in the clock gradually increases, allowing your body to become adjusted to the light in a natural way rather than shocked by it. Also, leaving your curtains open to allow real sunlight in helps.
On another note, I tried a yummy remedy posted by Earthmother from In The Raw, who also alluded to S.A.D. It’s quite the simple and delicious recipe. And I sure felt good after drinking it. ;)
**Some of these remedies were posted by Barbara Mendez R.Ph M.S who is a New York based Nutritionist and Registered Pharmacist, specializing in integrative therapies for preventative health care. She is the founder of the nutritional consulting practice Lifestyle Nutrients in midtown Manhattan, and her blog BarbaraMendezNutrition.com is an informational bridge between western, allopathic medicine and alternative, proactive, holistic health care.**
Have a wonderful weekend!