It’s about this time of year that I begin longing for warm days and the bounty of summer. While it’s a subtle feeling, the shorter days of winter can still get a little heavy, and it’s during this time that I find myself needing a quick energy boost to keep me going.
I know I’m not alone. Villanova University outlines the topic in-depth in this straightforward, informative analysis of Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as the winter blues. Turns out our moods are influenced not only by the amount and quality of the sunlight we’re exposed to, but also the impact it has on our levels of melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D.
I know how sunlight on our bare skin converts the cholesterol just under the surface to vitamin D, but I’m always game for digging deeper. To build on my existing knowledge, I’ve added The Healing Sun: Sunlight and Health in the 21st Century by Richard Hobday, PhD, to my list of “must reads” because this book teaches how to use the sun for a wide range of health and healing needs.
I’m lucky to have only experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder once, during a long, snowy, gloomy stretch when we lived in Nebraska. There was no sunshine for more than two weeks. Bleck. I used a little St. John’s Wort to take the edge off when I needed it. I even invested in a light therapy lamp to have around if I ever felt that way again. I’m happy to say that I haven’t.
Fortunately, my current locale has sunshine year round, which helps a great deal. But there are still sporadic days when I’m just a tad off. Though I’m no expert when it comes to the winter blues, the following techniques have all given me a boost when I needed it most:
- Lemon essential oil. A few drops of this in my diffuser fills the air with scents that remind me of sunshine and warm climates.
- Fresh air. There’s something about being outside and breathing in fresh air that perks me right up. And if the sun happens to be shining? Even better.
- Foods that make me think of summer. I can’t really explain it, but this summer-inspired raw blueberry jam really works for me. When I came across the recipe, I simply let some frozen blueberries thaw and whipped up a batch. Slathered on a piece of sprouted grains toast, it was way yummy.
Do you find yourself with low energy this time of year? If so, how do you lift your spirits when you need a boost?
Photo from iStock/gunnar3000