January is often a struggle for a few reasons and the January blues is rather well known. The Christmas cheer has faded, the weather is cold and the days are still short. End of January sees the days getting longer, yet we still have a couple of weeks to go before Spring wakes up Nature and us. Here are a couple of tips to keep high spirits until longer days and colourful Nature.

You can eat to improve the mood, low levels or actual deficiency of such nutrients as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, and the B vitamins folic acid and B12 are all associated with depressive symptoms.

Omega 3s are good for the mind – low levels of omega-3 in the body are thought to contribute to low moods. The absolute best source of omega-3 is flaxseeds. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed will supply the daily requirement of omega-3. Flaxseeds need to be grounded for your body to be able to absorb the omega-3 from them but then the shells do not protect them from oxidation anymore and they need to be stored in a refrigerator. Walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, soya, rapeseed and flaxseed oil and dark, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are all sources of Omega 3s.

Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It turns out that zinc plays a part in modulating the brain and body’s response to stress all along the way. Zinc is found in dairy produce, egg yolk, liver, red meat, seafood and whole-grain flour.

One research in UK, showed that an intake of Selenium was associated with a general elevation of mood and in particular, a decrease in anxiety. You can find selenium in egg yolk, garlic, seafood, and whole-grain flour.

Vitamin D improves our mood among many other benefits. It is our skin which largely manufactures vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and it’s also regularly highlighted that, during the dark winter months, we probably aren’t getting our recommended daily dose. There are high chances that you face a shortage of sun during those winter months, so finding alternative sources is mandatory.  Eating vitamin D rich foods such as fatty fishes (tuna, salmon and mackerel), cod-liver oil or halibut-liver oil and/or taking supplement will help prevent deficiencies.

Vitamins of the B family like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, but a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

Well feeding your body is important, but well feeding your brain is as important.

Ensuring some exercise lifts our mood as it releases the happy hormone serotonin, reduces stress and anxiety, improves our physical health, and gives us more energy.

Practicing Yoga can help you see the world from a rosier perspective as your body will relax. Studies have shown that certain yoga-linked breathing exercises can lower levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone linked to stress. Another study found that immediately after a one-hour session, yoga practitioners had a healthy boost in levels of the mood-related neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Low brain levels of GABA have been associated with anxiety and depression.

Treating yourself with a massage will not only invigorate your muscles, it can also be a great stress and anxiety buster.  Studies showed that massage therapy consistently lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. At the same time, it increased the activity of pleasure-related chemicals in the brain.

There are other exercises which could help you beat the winter blues, they are not “physical” but should not be overlooked.

Practicing gratitude and focusing on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. Taking time to notice simple pleasures and practicing gratitude can give a more positive outlook in life, make us more resilient, strengthen the relationships we have and help reduce stress.

Be joyful. According Rick Hanson a neuroscientist, it takes 15 seconds to register joy and pleasure in the brain. Every time you practice ‘letting in the joy’, you literally rewire neurons and increase your capacity for joy.

Meet with friends and family, connect with others. It has been shown that socialising is good for your mental. Make an effort to keep in touch with friends and family and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you don’t stay for too long.

Now you have more than one trick up your sleeves to meet the Spring already in high spirit!

Additional sources:

  • The impact of selenium supplementation on mood
  • The impact of Zinc on mood
  • Live Strong
  • Doctor Draxe
  • NHS
  • The Indepedent
  • Every Day Health
  • BBC Good Food

Author: Stephanie Castelain SNHS Dip. (Holistic Nutrition)

I am a qualified holistic health and nutrition guide, with specialization in holistic pain management and child nutrition. I have been taught to look at the body as a whole rather than just looking at symptoms. I also trained in Life Coaching, this specific course gave me additional tools for listening and guiding my clients. My goal is to help and guide people towards restoring their optimum health through nutrition.

www.lecomptoirdestephanie.com

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