Happiness in the darker months
Finding peace and happiness in a busy lifestyle can be hard for some and the cooler months can make this particularly hard with less outdoor exercise and sun exposure resulting in less serotonin boosts and vitamin D absorption.
To help you work towards a healthy, happy winter I have put together 9 essential lifestyle and nutrition tips to keep you smiling!
1. Check your vitamin D levels, although normal range for vitamin D is between 50 and 200, the OPTIMAL range to aim for would be over 85.
Deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.
2. Exercise a minimum of four times per week. With improved fitness, you will notice better mood, sleeping patterns and energy levels. There is nothing like exercise to change the levels of chemicals in the brain, endorphins and to reduce stress hormones.
3. Fight off bugs with good health gut health. If you have any awareness of your digestive system, such as bloating, pain, indigestion constipation or diarrhea, it is worthwhile addressing these by including herbal medicines, glutamine and the right type of probiotic for your system.
The gut/brain axis is a major focus of resolving underlying inflammatory drivers believed to cause depression.
4.Limit or stop your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a known depressant and yet many people use it to medicate themselves to take away the pain of depression. This quick fix, will only worsen your symptoms the next day.
5. Support your adrenals. Stress is everywhere we look these days. Promoting resiliency and managing stress via herbal adrenal support is the key when looking to reduce your nervous system from being triggered. Choosing the right adrenal tonic for yourself is the key. Feeling tired and wired? Then reach for Withania, one of my favourite adrenal tonics.
6. Take your supplements daily. The key to preventative medicine, is providing your body with all the micronutrients that even a healthy diet cannot provide, sadly our soils do not have the minerals in them that they used to as such our foods today have less nutrients, than in our grandparent’s day. I recommend that everyone should take a practitioner only, prescribed multivitamin, perhaps a methylated B vitamin tablet (if under high stress) and fish oils daily.
60 to 70% of your brain is made of fat. Ensuring that your body is provided with clean filtered fish oils will nourish your hippocampus to help your body manage stress.
7. Connect with others, join a group, contribution and sense of community helps to lift your spirits.
8. Consider mindfulness. The power of your thought is key when it comes to managing negative thought patterns. One of my favourite books is the Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.
9. Whole food is happy food! Relieve Stress with anti-inflammatory strategies. Reduce sugar, alcohol and packaged foods. Eat an abundance of vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, small portions of protein, small amounts wholegrains and dairy (optional). NB Diet is absolutely a personal choice some people thrive on a vegetarian diet whilst others prefer a Mediterranean style diet. Whatever diet you follow just choose less packaged foods and more wholefoods.
Please know that there is always someone to listen. If you feel that you can’t talk to your family or friends there are great psychologists, counsellors and hypnotherapists available to help. Speak to your doctor or health professional for a referral of who they think would best suit your needs.
Remember after the winter there is always spring ?