Feeling blue, depleted, lethargic or just not interested in doing anything is very common this time of year and the best way to overcome the winter blues is to have a holistic strategy that’s not too overwhelming. Here are my top tips to get you from ☹ to 😊:
1) Nutrition and looking after your body is key. Especially after the over-consumption of sugars, alcohol or other depleting foods consumed over Christmas.
Think rainbow diet - eat as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as possible as they have very different vitamins and minerals and it’s also more fun on a plate especially for children. Eat as fresh and unprocessed as possible and seasonal. If you have problems deciding what’s healthy or even where to start, get in touch and we can have a naturopathic consultation in which we can establish which are the optimum foods for your constitution. Food sensitivities and intolerances are a major problem and can make your life a misery - you don’t have to be allergic to a certain food to feel unwell. Eat enough good quality protein and brain foods (nuts, oily fish, avocados…)
Plan your week with healthy menus AND snacks so that you don’t fall into the unhealthy foods or snacks cycle when stress or unforeseen circumstances hit. Juices and smoothies are also a great way to get your greens and vegs in a more convenient way. (I am not talking about the ones you buy which are mostly bulked with ice, alternative milks and usually have too many fruits.) Do your own at home - think maximum 5 products of which 3 should be greens and 2 low glycaemic index fruits such as apples, berries, or pears.
2) Get enough good quality sleep.
Sleep is absolutely vital to your physical and mental health. Good sleep helps with consolidation of memory and the selection of important information and stimuli received throughout the day. It also helps healing and the repair of cells, such as those in the cardiovascular system. In addition it aids maintenance of the balance of hormones in the body, such as ghrelin and leptin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness and is likely to explain the link between inadequate sleep and increased risk of obesity. Other hormones such as insulin, which is responsible for the regulation of glucose in the blood, also change and can result in an increase in blood sugar level. Do you understand now why after a bad night sleep you wake up feeling grumpy and ready to binge on fatty, sugary foods?
Tackling sleep issues is complex as the reasons can vary from physical, pains and aches due sometimes to skeletal/poor posture issues - in this case seeing an osteopath might help restore balance and good postures and alleviating tensions. Food allergies & sensitivities may play havoc with your digestive system and not allow you to have a restful night. It could also be emotional or psychological, in those cases mindfulness, meditation and talking therapies can help tremendously to ease your mind and help you get a more restorative sleep.
3) Getting enough Vitamin D and immersing in nature
These are my two favourites especially if you live in the UK (where let’s say the weather is less than Mediterranean like!) There is a wealth of evidence that links nature exposure to improved health outcomes, from psychological effects (improved moods, positive impact on depression and anxiety) but also reduced recovery time following surgery, reduction of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children, health improvement in patients with cancer - this of course links to Vitamin D deficiency which most of us are lacking as we are not going out as much as we should in broad daylight (yes even when the weather is grey).
Those with low levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of experiencing substantial cognitive decline (1) and have also been associated with depression because of the reduction of sunlight during the winter months (SAD). Vit D supplementation showed that it had a positive impact on depression (2) so make sure you get enough daylight even in winter and supplement if necessary.
4) Tackle nutrients and vitamins deficiencies
If your reserve of nutrients and minerals is very low, trying to do too much too soon might have a counterproductive effect and might leave you even more fatigued and low. Supplementing with key nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin B, C and D and essential fatty acids is a good start.
5) Look after your guts
The gut brain connection is undeniable (3) A troubled gut can lead to anxiety, depression and vice versa, a healthy gut has a positive impact on your brain, mood, sleep etc. Avoid highly processed foods, coffee, sugar, and alcohol and take pre and probiotics as well as digestive enzymes.
6) Stay Hydrated
After all our bodies are made of 60 to 70% water - so make sure you drink enough water and help a multitude of body functions to work optimally. Don’t forget that feeling thirsty already indicates that you are dehydrated, so keep a bottle of water with you and drink little and often.
Before taking any supplements it’s always recommended to speak to a health practitioner to avoid contradictions with other drugs and also to help you take the right amount and the right brand for you.
If you need advice on any of the issues mentioned in this blog, do get in touch and I'll be very happy to help.