I can’t tell you how many people have been telling me that they’re really struggling this winter. You know how you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed when the alarm goes off and it’s dark and cold outside? You know how you just don’t feel like you’ve got that spring in your step, like you do during the warmer months? Well it’s actually for good reason. Here’s why and here’s what you can do about it…
I can’t tell you how many people have been telling me that they’re really struggling this winter. You know how you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed when the alarm goes off and it’s dark and cold outside? You know how you just don’t feel like you’ve got that spring in your step, like you do during the warmer months? Well it’s actually for good reason.
At our core, we are just another mammal. Like a bear. Or a squirrel. Our bodies are designed to rise and sleep with the sun. During the shorter winter days, we produce more melatonin. Because the release of melatonin is tied to the sunset, when the sun sets earlier, our body wants to go to bed earlier.
We use serotonin (the feel good hormone) to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone), which is why so many people feel flat (at best) or develop anxiety and SAD disorders during winter.
Unfortunately our work hours don’t change with the seasons so we end up working against our body’s natural circadian rhythm. There are things you can do to counteract the affects of winter (like expose yourself to bright lights early in the morning, eat light fresh foods, and hit the gym to make more energy).
But I’m all about working with our bodies and not against our bodies.
So here’s what I’d rather see you do…
1. Reduce your morning routine to give yourself more time in bed. Hit the gym for 30-mins or go for a 30-min walk instead of an hour and don’t get to work before you have to. The less time you have at the desk, the more productive you need to be!
2. Keep a pretty regular sleep/wake routine (even on the weekends) to support your circadian rhythm.
3. Take things more slowly. You don’t need to fight nature by continuing your busy schedule during the winter months. It’s ok to hibernate you know. Don’t schedule too many catch-ups on the weekends and give yourself plenty of movie nights in. Cook a nice meal and watch a film with your beau instead of hitting the town.
4. Get plenty of:
- Vitamin D – through sun exposure on your skin to help regulate your moods, ward off depression and improve immune function.
- Omega 3’s – through salmon, walnuts, fish oil or flaxseed oil. Omega 3’s are the building blocks of the brain and have been shown to lower rates of postnatal depression. Our bodies can’t make this essential fatty acid, so we need to get it from diet or supplementation.
- B-Vitamins – especially B-6, B-9 or Folate and B-12 – think dark leafy greens, fish, meat and eggs, or consider a supplement. B vitamins provide energy for our cells, control immune function, hormones, mood, sleep, nerves, circulation, and digestion. Pretty important little guys.
So next time the alarm goes off at 6am for your gym session and you really can’t be f’ed going; be kind to yourself. You may just need the extra sleep and that’s ok. In fact, that’s totally in alignment with how we’re programmed. Plus, when you have a little bubba waking you up before sunrise, you’ll fantasise about days of rest!