The holiday season came quick this year. After an intense election year, most of us have welcomed the diversion of holiday television commercials, Christmas lights and indulging at holiday and work parties. However, the residual effects of both (the election and the holidays) can play havoc with our physical and emotional health and well-being! While we are having fun and falling into indulgence mode, it is important to set into place tools that will help create a healthy foundation after the holiday’s are over!
Here are a couple tips to get started:
Full Spectrum Lighting. Many people find themselves struggling with the effect of limited natural light. We get up and it is dark and when we get out of work, it is often dark as well.
We may find ourselves feeling fatigued, a bit blue wanting to sleep more than normal. Many people turn to full spectrum lighting to help them get that natural light that is often only replicated by sunlight.
Full spectrum lighting, according to Wikipedia “is light that covers the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultraviolet, that are useful to plant or animal life; in particular, sunlight is considered full spectrum.” Full spectrum lighting is reproduced via light bulbs, lamps and light boxes and can be purchased at many stores or on line.
Vitamin D is manufactured in our bodies when we are exposed to natural sunlight. During the winter months, most of us are not exposed to adequate amounts of sunlight. You can get vitamin D through some foods like fatty fish and fortified milk however; it is very difficult to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from our diet. A simple blood test can determine if you are deficient. Suggested minimum dose of Vitamin D is 2,000 IUs a day.
Omega-3 and 6 fatty essential fatty acid supplements have been shown to relieve depression symptoms in some studies. Sources of omega-3s include fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Flaxseed, flax oil and walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, and small amounts are found in soybean and canola oils. Oftentimes it is hard to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through diet. According to Dr. Jen Green, Naturopathic Physician, the balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (2:1 ration) is important. Sources of Omega 6 include evening primrose oil, borage, safflower, sesame, peanut, and corn oil and should be used moderately. You can purchase Essential Fatty Acid supplements at our office or most local health food stores, groceries and pharmacy’s.
Mindfulness Meditation. Meditation helps the heart rate and breath slow down. It can help reduce strain on the adrenal system and enhance immune function. John Kabat-Zinn M.D author of Full Catastrophic Living writes about using the mind to heal the body. “Mindfulness is a way of living your life and holding all of your experience” he says. “These kind of practices, mindful yoga and meditation – actually have effects on the body that are in the direction of greater health and well being”. Mindful breathing is the core of his brand of mind-body medicine. It encourages us to become aware of our feelings and our thoughts without reacting to them.
Nutrition and exercise. Not enough can be said about the benefits of eating a healthy diet and taking time to exercise on a regular basis – both which can help us combat the effects of holiday excesses. Drinking large glasses of room temperature water, preparing a large pot of soup to have available, scheduling time to do yoga, go to the gym or power walk a few times during the holidays are ways in which we can both have fun and feel good at the same time!