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You may remember a blog we published last Autumn – Is Autumn making you SAD? Well we thought it would be good to reflect on this post and look at some positive ways to boost your mood now that the nights are drawing in and the temperature has started to drop. We all hit a post summer slump at this time of year but hopefully these ideas will lift your spirits and put a smile on your face.
You have to agree that we have had a long and warm summer here in the UK – for a lot of families this has meant weekends partying at a BBQ and evenings in the garden with a bottle of something alcoholic. Alcohol interferes with the levels of tryptophan – required for mood-lifting serotonin production. Some of you may have already tried Go Sober for October but for those who haven’t why not try and have a ‘dry’ month and let your body recover. Stick to juices, soft drinks and water even if it’s just for a week – you’ll be surprised how different you feel.
Don’t let the darker nights put you off venturing out. Lots of people change their routine completely when the nights begin to draw in. Instead of assuming your usual position on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon why not go on a nature walk with your family or friends?
Take time to look at the colours and changes that are taking place around you, have fun kicking up the leaves and listening to them crunch beneath your feet, savour the smell of Autumn and splash in the puddles – it is 500 to 1000 times brighter outside than inside and the biggest cause of SAD or the 'Winter Blues' is the lack of Vitamin D which is naturally produced through sunlight. When you get home have a warming cup of Lemon and Ginger Tea or push the boat out and have a hot chocolate. You’ll feel like you’ve earned it when you curl up on the sofa, all warm and toasty.
The latest big buzz in natural mood boosters is 5-HTP. A substance which the body converts into serotonin (the happy hormone). Perfect for keeping the autumn blues at bay. Research confirms that 5-HTP can work faster than antidepressants for some people who are suffering from low mood disorders.
Fish, bananas, dried dates, almonds, peanuts, soya and dairy products – what do they all have in common? They all contain naturally occurring tryptophan which the body uses to make serotonin the ‘happy’ chemical. Combining these tryptophan-rich foods with wholegrain carbohydrates like wholemeal bread, oats, brown rice and wholemeal pasta assist the body to release insulin which will boost the amount of tryptophan. No excuses now, peanut butter on wholemeal toast with a banana for breakfast – an ideal start to the day.
There is nothing like a refreshing shower on a summer morning but during the winter make time to relax in a soothing bath. Soaking in a nice warm bath (not too hot) before bedtime will encourage a good, restorative night’s sleep and has also been shown to help reduce stress and boost your immune system.
Add something special to the water and voila – heaven.
1 cup Epsom Salt
1/2 cup Real Salt or a high-quality mineral-rich salt
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
1/4 cup crushed lavender, optional (helps give the calming lavender smell and effect)
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, this is not mixed in the salt formula, but added at time of bath
If using dried lavender, simply crush it. I use the same mortar and pestle I use for crushing spices.
In a storage container, add the Epsom Salt, Real Salt, and crushed dried lavender. Mix the ingredients together. I simply shake the container once sealed. Once combined, add the lavender essential oil. Mix the oil throughout the salts.
Seal the container and use 1/2 cup per bath. While the warm water is drawn, I also add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil. You can also add apple cider vinegar to help with immune-boosting, particularly if you are fighting a cold.
Winter can be the ideal time to learn something new. If you are spending more time indoors during the evening, instead of sitting with the remote in hand fumbling through channel after channel hoping to find something to watch – enroll on a distance learning course or find a new hobby to fill the long evenings. I have just enrolled on a course to learn The Art of Chocolate Making – now surely that’s going to make someone happy!