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While the Fall months mean pleasantly cooler weather, beautiful foliage changes and new seasonal harvests for most of us, for some with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the dismal onset of darker mornings, shorter days, and reduced time outside overshadows any perceived benefits. Maintaining a regular healthy routine during the seasonal shifts can be a delicate balance of yin and yang and arming yourself with the tools you need to keep the balance is the first step toward boosting your body and your mood.
Here are some big strategies that you can start implementing right away to help you keep the light and positivity flowing, even through the darker and cooler months.
EAT (MORE) MOOD-BOOSTING FOODS
Green Tea – Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can have. Full of antioxidants and nutrients that help boost brain function, memory, and energy levels, drinking a cup (or more!) of green tea each day will provide benefits to both body and soul.
Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate is known for having powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties, and it also protects from heart disease and improves brain function. Plus...its chocolate! Need we say more?
Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Herring) – The omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish reduce inflammation and reduce your risk for heart disease. Consume at least 2 servings per week to experience the benefits and keep your body happy and in balance!
Blueberries – Blueberries contain folate and folate contributes to the production of serotonin. Toss some blueberries in your cereal or in a salad a few times per week to boost your serotonin and get that feel-good benefit!
Oysters – Oysters boast an impressive resume of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These mollusks contain high levels of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, and so much more. Eating some of these will have tremendous benefits to your body’s overall function and health (which will, in turn, boost your mood!)
Fermented Foods (Yogurt, Kimchi, and Sauerkraut) – Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and beverages like kombucha are loaded with probiotics! Probiotics are great for improving gut health and digestion, boosting immunity, and promoting a healthy weight. Go with your ‘gut’ and add some of these to your grocery list.
Spinach, Kale, and Other Leafy Greens - Spinach, Kale, and Other Leafy Greens – The family of dark green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, C, E and K, and are therefore overall great sources for whole-body nutrition. Dark leafy greens also promote heart health and help fight cancer.
INCREASE YOUR ACCESS TO LIGHT
Increasing your access to light will increase the amount of natural Vitamin D you absorb throughout the day and help keep your circadian rhythms balanced. Not sure what circadian rhythms are? These internal patterns, or the ‘body clock’, help influence sleep-wake cycles and hormone release, which in turn influences digestion, emotions, and alertness. Here are some tips for increasing your access to light and keeping your rhythms in check:
• Position tables/chairs at home and in the office closer to windows for daylight benefits.
• Exercise under bright (preferably natural) lights.
• Brighten your environment – you can use an antidepressant lightbox, candles, warmly-toned decorations and fresh green plants to increase the ‘energy’ in your space and permeate dark areas and corners with warmth.
• Use a dawn-simulator if getting out of bed during those dark mornings is tough.
GET FRESH AIR (EVEN IF YOU DON’T LOVE THE TEMPERATURES)
Studies show that getting outside and absorbing natural light and air can help improve focus, lower stress levels, and reduce symptoms of SAD. Here are some small ways you can get outside throughout the day:
• Go for a walk around the block on your work lunch break
• Park further away from the store entrance and walk
• If it’s nice (but cool) outside, bundle up and do something you’d ordinarily do inside, outside instead
• Plan outdoor weekend activities with the family regularly – make going outside a fun experience to be looked forward to
Volunteering your time and energy to help another can be incredibly beneficial to your overall mental and emotional wellness. Whether its spending a day at your local food pantry to help serve meals to your community, spending time with a child through a mentorship program, or just making plans to visit with a friend in need, the rewarding feeling that results from helping another has mood-boosting benefits that extend far and wide throughout the body.
We hope that these strategies will help you to embrace the seasonal change with the light and positivity that will drive you to Spring renewal. The body is a connected system. External efforts made to invite good health (nutritious diet, access to light and fresh air, and philanthropy) will help foster internal mood-boosting feelings of warmth, happiness, and fulfillment, all season long.
Tag(s): Corporate Wellness Blogs