|January-slower and bluesier|
There is a way out. The shortage of light during the winter time is very real, and in a very real way can affect our hormonal balance. We may suffer from a lack of serotonin and melatonin. The combination of melatonin, the hormone which our bodies produce to help us sleep, and serotonin, the hormone which regulates our mood and energy, work together in managing important aspects of our being. Immunity, pain, digestion, sleep/wake cycles, body temperature, blood pressure, blood clotting, and daily body rhythms are all affected by these two hormones. It pays to know how to keep them at a nice productive level. Read on.
|Exercise - indoor|
Exercise , an important component of health at any time,
is very important here in the dead of winter. It increases levels of serotonin, which then relieves some of those blah and blue moods and sensations. It also helps to relieve stress. Walks, even brief 15 minute ones, in some fresh air can do wonders in boosting a funky mood, sunshine or not.
Aromatherapy has also been shown to help levels of serotonin and melatonin. Oils such as lavender and chamomile encourage us to have a restful sleep and prevent us from waking up moody. These oils can be used in bath salts, bath oils, candles, and in oils applied to the bldy for cleansing, calming and balancing thoughts and emotions.
|Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds|
Nutrition plays a big part in either improving a good mood or increasing depression. When our serotonin levels are low, we naturally crave carbohydrates, especially the simple kinds of it. Consume, instead, good quality carbohydrates, organic, if possible, unprocessed and full of nutrition. Specifically, go for the dark leafy greens, other vegetables, and fruit. And the more of them that you eat raw, the more you will feel positive results. On the other hand, processed, simple carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar in their many forms create a quick blood sugar spike shortly after being consumed, followed by a crash with feelings of not having taken any good fuel for life. Raw homemade trail mix is a great snack to have on hand, as are spreads like hummus, cut up raw vegetables and fruit, and some occasional popcorn. Also, planning more carbohydrate dense dinners will satisfy any late night munchies and help you to sleep better.
|Healthy oils and fats|
Don’t be shy of fat. Fats play a critical part in brain health. Omega 3 fatty acids help maintain healthy levels of the brain chemicals, dopamine and, you guessed it, serotonin. Few people realize that they are lacking in omega -3 fatty acids. Our brain’s cell membranes are made from Omega 3 fats. Along with regulating mood and energy, serotonin enables brain cells to communicate with each other by passing through the cell membranes. Our bodies can’t produce these fatty acids so we must consume them in our diets. Omnivores eat fatty fish, such as Alaskan salmon and sardines, because they are a potent form of omega 3s. Other healthy forms are available for vegetarians and vegans from flaxseed, chi seeds, walnuts, canola and walnut oils, kale, collard greens, and winter squash. The national Institutes of health (NIH) panel of experts recommend that people consume at least 2% of their daily calories as omega- 3 fats, about 4 grams a day for a diet of 2000 calories. That is not a burdensome amount. We just need to make sure we incorporate a good supply of omega-3s in our diets.
|Sunshine on the skin!|