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How to beat the winter blues

winter blues

As we head into the autumn and winter months most of us become susceptible to the winter blues at one point or another, and there are some very good reasons why, including the lack of vitamin D and the propensity to veer towards stodgy foods. Here Sue Davis, Naturopath at Lifehouse Spa gives a few tips on how to limit the lows…

Vitamin D for winter wellbeing

As a rule, we’re meant to have a good summer between May and September, and during that time it’s recommended that we sunbathe for 15 minutes a day so the body can store vitamin D which it then releases over winter months. In the UK however, we don’t get good summers as much as we would like (although this year has been pretty great on the weather front) so a lot of us are vitamin D deficient by October.

Supplementation is one way to boost your vitamin D3, which is natural as opposed to synthesised. You can also get it from certain foods such as herring, salmon, trout and sardines, or even use a spray under the tongue which can provide a week’s worth in one go. Build up to the amount that you want and then scale it back down again when you feel as though you’re in a good place with it.

5HTP to beat the winter blues

When people get depressed their sleep is often not as good as you need it to be, so another supplement that’s recommended is 5HTP which is all about increasing serotonin levels (happy hormone) of which we have less on longer, darker days. It’s not recommended to take it indefinitely, just over the winter months and usually 50mg a day with an evening meal to improve sleep. Converts to sleep hormone melatonin.

Light therapy for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

There’s lots of research about light boxes which you can use for up to two hours a day - so you can use them in the office to give you a boost. The natural alarm clock Lumie works on your pituitary gland and you can get a dawn simulator which mimics the sunrise as well as one for the sunset.

Exercise for the winter blues

Getting out for a brisk walk for about an hour in the middle of the day when the light is at its best is a really simple and effective way of helping with the winter blues, although any exercise will help with endorphins, which will make you feel better.

Avoid stodgy food

There’s an inclination to have more stodgy food in the winter such as white carbs with white flour as well as white potatoes and pasta. These foods give you a sugar high which then leads to a dip, but the dip is known to feel lower in the winter months no doubt compounded by the effect of the light. So try not to comfort eat too much as the positive feelings tend to be short lived.

Epsom Salt baths for rest and relaxation

A nice, simple, relaxing thing to do at the end of the day is to have a bath with Epsom Salts to help relieve the winter blues. The magnesium is absorbed into the skin and is a mood enhancer and muscle relaxer, particularly if you add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil. Go to bed straight afterwards and you’re pretty much guaranteed to sleep well.

St John’s Wort to lift the spirits

Associated with depression, St John’s Wort is actually a nerve tonic worth considering in the winter months. Alternatively, fish oil has stood up against some anti depressants as well, such as cod liver oil which is good for hair and skin as well and has lots of lovely side effects.

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