How to beat the winter blues
It seems like winter is here making some of us pine for those long light summer evenings. Others may cherish this time as you tuck yourself away, snuggle at home and feel a sense of seasonal hibernation, although this year it seems we’re being forced into this regardless of our preference.
With fewer daylight hours, the brain produces less serotonin, our happy neurotransmitter. For some, this can lead to seasonal affected disorder (SAD) or just feeling a bit low. Up to 20% of people have mild symptoms of SAD. Keeping ourselves well during the darker months of the year is vital for our mind and body, especially given the current state of lockdown, so we’ve put together some helpful information on how you can support your overall health.
SUNLIGHT & EXERCISE
As a result of the weather getting colder most people start spending less time outside and decrease their physical activity during winter, but if you think you may have SAD, pushing yourself to exercise is a good way to combat it says psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD:
“Moving your body will compete with that tendency to be sluggish and can produce good brain chemistry,”
Winter and the resulting lack of sunlight can lead to your body synthesizing less Vitamin D. A Ministry of Health Study found that 27.1 percent of New Zealand adults tested below the recommended level of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones by stimulating calcium absorption in the body. Without it, the body is unable to utilise the calcium supplied via diet or supplements. The body manufactures vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight at the right time of day and season, so it’s a good idea to commit to that daily walk or run and get your 40 mins outside.
CREATE SOCIAL SITUATIONS
During the wintertime, the urge to hunker down and stay home can result in less social interaction, the current level 4 lockdown makes this our reality. It’s good to try and push yourself to regularly connect with others, even if it’s a zoom call or facetime with friends, creating a new social obligation that forces your hand toward social activity and being engaged with others is useful for those with seasonal affected disorder.
One of the most well-known mood supporting nutrients are B-Vitamins. They are water-soluble which means they don’t store in our body, so they need to be topped up each day for optimum health. If your levels are low the body finds it hard to release the energy from your food, which can contribute to feeling tired or sluggish, having low motivation or poor mental performance. Obtaining B Vitamins from food is ideal but at times the body may require extra support. A natural B complex can act as a supportive boost. Lifestream B-Complex is made from quinoa sprouts, harvested at the peak of their vibrancy to deliver easy to absorb B vitamins that are gentle on your stomach.
OMEGA – 3
Your brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function at its best and to create healthy brain cells. The outside of cell membranes need omegas to keep the structure strong so it can allow the right chemicals in and let the toxic waste out. It is thought that a strong omega supported cell membrane lets the feel-good chemicals into our brain cells, supporting a happy mood.
Plant-based omega 3 derives from algae that fish eat. Algae-sourced omega 3 contains DHA and EPA which are required for optimal brain health and mood- without harming any fish in the process. Lifestream’s algae omega 3 includes plant-based vitamin D3 , which can help as a natural mood boost and is a clean, sustainable and plant-based alternative to fish oil. Low levels of D3 can affect serotonin synthesis in the brain leading to feelings of anxiousness or a low mood. Vitamin D3 also supports a healthy immune response in the body.