With the days getting colder and gloomier and nights getting longer, I have been asked this question a lot lately. Firstly, it is natural to experience mood and energy changes with changing seasons. In winter months there is less sunlight available to us and this can trigger changes in hormone production, particularly the hormone Melatonin which can cause lethargy and symptoms of depression in some cases. If you are feeling a bit ‘off’, you may have a mild case of the winter blues and the advice in this article is a good starting point for boosting your mood and energy again. If you are feeling extremely low, I would recommend seeing your GP to rule out potential Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) where you may need more intensive light therapy in addition to the recommendations here.
1. Top up with some supplements:
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D is produced in your skin when you absorb sunlight. Naturally in winter months, this depletes and the amount of vitamin D in our bodies is lower. We can absorb some vitamin D from food (e.g. salmon, egg, sweet potatoes), but this is minimal. The best way to increase your Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight or taking a supplement. Research has shown that vitamin D can be an important part to play in mood regulation for people with depression. As a bonus it helps with weight loss too! Always follow the dosage advice on the tub and look out for Vitamin D3 in particular.
Magnesium Citrate: If you only ever take one supplement please please take this one! Research shows magnesium positively influences symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also works great for relaxing your muscles and improving your quality of sleep. I recommend it to all my clients as its multiple benefits also help aid weight loss.
B-complex: B vitamins are used by the body to regulate mood. Did you know that birth control, anti-depressants and antibiotics can rob the body of essential B vitamins? Take one capsule with breakfast and lunch to replenish your body and enhance mood-regulating hormones and function.
2. Morning & evening gratitudes
Every morning, the minute you wake up, write down 3 things you are grateful for. This starts the day off on a positive and really shapes the day ahead as a happier one. Also in the evening I want you to write down or discuss with family 3 things that went well that day. Have you ever asked someone how their day is and they go into a negative tirade of complaining? You ask the kids how their day at school was and you are lucky if you get a grunt or one word answer back? If your partner dislikes their job or has had a rubbish day, they are less likely to feel good talking about it or have anything positive to say. Same goes for the kids day at school. If you re-phrase it by talking about the 3 best things that happened that day, there will be much more feel-good conversation flowing which will ultimately boost everyones mood.
3. Reduce sugar and eat more often!
Sugar is the enemy when it comes to crashing your energy levels and leaving you in a slump. Check packaging for hidden sugars and eat as much freshly prepared food as possible. You also want to eat more regularly, every 2.5-3 hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and reduce energy dips. Replace starchy carbs with lower carb alternatives such as sweet potato, courgette spaghetti and cauliflower rice. Make healthy treats free from refined sugar like the ones you can find on my blog, or buy some ready made from my Naturally Guilt Free food range.
4. Daily movement
Did you know exercise is prescribed for mental health and low mood issues these days? It doesn’t have to be a full blown gym session. Research by the mental health charity MIND showed that a one hour walk is enough to boost your mood. It could be as simple as a walk in the park with the dog or the children. Make an effort to move your body every day to benefit from the mood enhancing hormone serotonin which is produced when you are active.
5. Swap your coffee for Matcha
Coffee depletes the body of mood-controlling vitamins. Swap your coffee for a matcha tea. If you haven’t heard of Matcha yet, its time to update your healthy foodie knowledge. Matcha is a superfood powder which gives you all of the amazing health benefits associated with green tea…. except its 15 times more potent, plus contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea!! Its a superfood, antioxidant powerhouse in a cup. In ancient times, monks in Japan used Matcha to aid meditation. Modern science has confirmed that the rare amino acid found in Matcha does in fact promote a state of relaxation and well-being. This same amino acid also inhibits possible side-effects from caffeine, promoting concentration and clarity of mind. A great afternoon pick-me-up for tough days at the office!
Give these a try and you should notice an improvement within a matter of weeks. Let me know how you get on!
Love Natasha x