The arrival of Fall is always bitter sweet for me. I love the changing leaves and fresh, crisp air. My long-haired dogs get more spring in their step. Yet, as the days get shorter and cooler, I can feel melancholy about the end of lazy summer days…
If seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a mood-related reaction to less sunlight, is something that puts a damper on your spirits this time of year, a few simple and natural activities can help.
Sunlight used to be something we were exposed to on a daily basis when we were agricultural societies. Now that we are indoors a good deal of the time, many of us barely get enough light in summer, let alone winter. Indoor lighting that imitates daylight is a quick fix for the winter doldrums. Depending on need, you can also purchase a light box to give you the extra sunlight your body craves.
The vitamin D that we gain from sunlight on our skin improves mood, resistance to infection and cancer, and facilitates a myriad of other bodily functions. I get tested for vitamin D levels and supplement with a carefully chosen form of the vitamin. I want to be sure I’m not getting “filler,” which can be just about anything beyond the required 20 percent of the vitamin advertised as determined by FDA regulations. A guide to watch for is GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) on the label. This means the supplement company met basic quality standards in their manufacturing.
Most of us, whether we choose to act on it or not, know by now that exercise boosts our mood. It may raise seratonin levels in the brain when the exertion is at a high enough level to cause fatigue. I’m adamant about choosing exercise that we enjoy, otherwise our best intentions will dwindle away to an occasional outing, if we continue to exercise at all. When weather permits, I love to walk at a fast clip with my dogs, taking in the squirrel gathering nuts or the birds swooping down to settle on a branch overhead. Another favorite is bicycling, so I can see something different while I’m moving. My backup when it’s raining is a Nordic Track while viewing an old Peter Gabriel DVD. What do you love that you could incorporate into exercise?
Another significant way to boost mood is through nutrition. Interestingly, it’s not just about the balance of nutrients that a whole food diet gives us. We can actually manage a predisposition to low seratonin through our food. For example, researchers found that chickpeas supply a hefty enough amount of tryptophan to raise our seratonin levels. This means eat your hummus! It is delicious, provides protein and makes you feel better. Of course, eating fresh, clean, whole foods that are pesticide-, GMO-, and radiation-free will supply the basic nourishment our bodies need to stay healthy and strong.
A last food-related way to improve mood is to become free of refined sugar–especially if you crave it! Sweets may seem to improve mood, but they always let you down with a crash (when you blood sugar takes a dive). For more information about how to get off sugar with a five-day freedom detox, join my free teleseminar, Sweet Success, on Tuesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. EDT. Watch for details and registration on my website, www.yourhealthpotential.com.