Why could I feel down every winter?
Winter is approaching bringing with it the usual ailments such as coughs, colds, bronchitis, ‘flu and of course the threat of CoVid-19. People with some of these conditions can be supported well with homeopathic medicines but a good diet will help to boost your immune system in the first place to help reduce your tendency to these problems.
However there is another ailment that is quite common at this time of year called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.S.). Homeopaths are often often consulted about this problem. Perhaps you suffer with this yourself?
Do you get those down feelings as soon as the clocks go back? Well you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from the winter blues (approximately 6 million people).
The two most common factors associated with winter blues are: having less energy (wanting to hibernate) and just feeling low or depressed (can’t be bothered). Other issues, such as increased stress (especially leading up to Christmas) and increased bombardment from cold and flu infections, can all play a part.
There are two likely reasons for feeling blue in the winter:
1. Less exposure to sunlight causes brain levels of serotonin – the ‘happy’ transmitter – to fall (light stimulates the brain to produce serotonin).
2. You might not be eating so well (less fresh salads/fruit etc) and so not getting enough mood boosting nutrients.
As well as homeopathic remedies there are some simple nutritional recommendations that you can help yourself with which could really make the difference to how you feel.
So from a nutrition point of view we need to eat foods for high energy – foods that give the best ‘miles per gallon’. These foods are unprocessed, organic, nutrient-rich whole foods such as apples, pears and berries and all vegetables, Whole grains (oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread), beans and lentils are equally important. If half your diet consists of these whole foods, you are on the right track for natural energy. Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, cakes and white rice.
To improve mood we need to look at foods that increase levels of serotonin, the brain’s ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. A protein called tryptophan is converted in the body to serotonin, so we need to increase our intake of foods rich in tryptophan. This can be found in foods such as fish, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, avocadoes and bananas. Also, eating foods rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids (found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, and also in seeds) is thought to stave off depression as it acts on serotonin function in the brain.
If the thought of eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole foods seems difficult in the winter, think of making lots of warming soups, casseroles, hot berry desserts. Also, use what’s in season – all those root vegetables, carrots, swedes, celeriac, turnips, leeks and onions. Try combining a selection with some vegetable stock and brown lentils to make a wholesome soup or casserole (add fresh/dried herbs for extra flavouring); and follow it with a delicious apple and berry crumble. Comfort food can be nutritious and can help you get out of the winter blues!
Make sure also that you get outside into natural daylight as much as possible – it doesn’t need to be a bright sunny day either. Some people find it beneficial to buy a special light box which they sit by for a specified length of time a day and which transmit powerful full-spectrum light to boost serotonin levels. A cheaper option is to invest in a full-spectrum light bulb to work by. They are more efficient than ordinary light bulbs, so are cheaper to run, but provide a good working light and some benefits of natural daylight.
Exercise plays another important part in our mood so a walk for 20 minutes daily will boost your mood and keep you fit. Here’s to a happy and healthy winter!
Yoga and meditation are also mood boosters and I can give you a one to one lesson via Zoom to gently get you started. I’m a qualified meditation teacher (DPNM). Read more here.
Drop me an email on clare.wassermann@gmail to see whether I can help you.