There’s a reason we celebrate the solstice of the return of light into the dark globally. The Light represents warmth and love and green growing things and is sacred in most faith traditions because very little of life on Earth can survive in total darkness.
When days are short and nights are long, many of us start feeling a little under the weather – low energy, poor concentration, anxious or grumpy or sad for no reason, craving sugar, gaining weight, wanting to isolate.
If this is you, you might have the winter blues. 5 – 30 % of us do, depending on how far we live from the equator.
Some people’s symptoms are much more severe which makes it difficult to function at work or at home, up to, and including, obsessive suicidal ideation – far beyond the ‘Winter Blues.” This is a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. If you are struggling, you should see your doctor. You can also contact this international directory of suicide hotlines.
What’s Going On?
You can think of yourself as “solar-powered in a way.” Human beings, animals, and even plants come programmed with “Circadian Rhythms,” which regulate the body’s sleep, digestion, blood sugar, body temperature and other metabolic functions in accordance with the rhythms of the sun and the planet.
Basically, when it’s dark, the pineal gland (third eye) in your brain produces the hormone melatonin, which also acts as a neurotransmitter, to help regulate other hormones and maintain the body’s circadian rhythm, through your nervous system. If there’s too much in your bloodstream in the daytime, this slows you down and fades your beautiful glow.
The blue spectrum of sunlight during the day tells the brain to stop melatonin production, so you feel awake and alert. During the dark days of winter, however, your body may not receive the signal to stop producing it in the morning, leaving you feeling fatigued, cranky, cold and confused.
What to do to feel better?
- Get moving and get outside. Well, as intuition tells us and research confirms, getting outside, especially when the light is strongest, can help reset your body clock. So, try to get outside, even for a brief 15-minute walk, even when you don’t feel like it. The literature also recommends “working up a sweat” a few times a week to enjoy some endorphins and keep your metabolism up, which will help your mood. At age 75, I’ll recommend “Laughter yoga” I think, hahahahaha. Really. Look it up.
- Turn off your device several hours before bedtime. Your electronic devices emit blue light, telling your body not to make melatonin. A few hours before bedtime, switch to other activities – read a book, call a friend, do some chores, take a hot bath, you get the idea.
- Light therapy may help. Many people have found relief by sitting with a specially designed light that mimics outdoor light without UV rays for 20-40 minutes in the morning when dark pre-dawn days fail to inform their brain it’s morning and time to stop producing melatonin. These lights may not be suitable for everyone. Be sure to talk to your doctor or chiropractor about the right device and appropriate amount of time for you.
- Stick to a healthy diet and stay hydrated. You LOVE you. Though you may have strong cravings for simple carbs like pastry and pasta now, try to work with complex carbs instead such as root veggies, oatmeal, brown rice, along with lean proteins and lots of fresh fruit and greens. Soups warm you from the inside out, and you can include lots of veggies. My naturopathic doctor also recommends Vitamins D3 with K2 and Omega 3’s to help lift the winter blues.
- Keep up your social life. You may seriously want to isolate or feel just too tired to go out in the cold, but keeping up with friends and family is important during these dark months. Social occasions bring you laughter, music or even just sharing a confidence or at least a hug with friends.
Stay warm and stay glowing, the world needs your Light right now.
Love and Laughter,