Endless days of clouds, chapped lips, and winds that chill to the bone. Weather conditions affect our health, our immunity and our mental states. But there are ways to find harmony so the winter blues don't get the best of you. Here are 5 best practices for the season that brings us darker days:
1) Eat your serotonin. Serotonin plays an important role in the regulation of sleep and mood, and 80% of our body's serotonin is found in the digestive system. Try buckwheat, which is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that will help the body's production of this important neurotransmitter. Other good sources include oats, bananas and spinach.
2) Bundle up and get outside. The more you cocoon yourself indoors, the better, right? Wrong. People with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) have more levels of melatonin (serotonin's opposite) than normal during the day. Even when it's mostly cold and dark, there's a good hour or two that has light. Layer in moisture-repelling clothing and take a walk outside which will help to regulate your serotonin/melatonin balance.
3) Activate your pineal gland. Your pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the brain, located near the centre. It's in charge of melatonin, which can make us drowsy during the day if it's out of whack. Yoga poses may affect the operation of the pineal gland and help to reset normal circadian rhythm. Try forward bending poses or inversions that place the head lower than the heart.
4) Get your sunshine vitamin. If you find you're deeply affected by winter, try supplementing. Low levels of vitamin D affect bone density, immunity and mood. At present, Health Canada recommends 1000IU for an adult each day during the fall and winter months.
5) Early to bed, early to rise. Honour your exhaustion by maximizing your sleep. The bonus is you'll more enjoy the waning sunshine and be energized to have mood-boosting encounters with good friends.
And make sure to keep the rest of your year-round health habits like exercising and eating whole foods. Then you'll really earn those moments underneath a blanket with those you love.