How to Feel Energy, Clarity and Joy All Winter Long
To be a Healthy High Energy, High Performing Achiever – There is no time for SAD.
Many of us simply assume that this is the time of year that we will feel a lack of energy and motivation and that there is nothing we an do about it. I am here to tell you that it is simple to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder and continue to thrive during the cold and dreary months of winter. By following these simple tips, you will be empowered with the information you need to not only glide through this time of year like a sled on a snowy path but you may even find that you are more energized and more productive now than ever.
Don’t let SAD make you Sad.
The mind and body are not two separate things but part of your whole self. Knowing this helps to explain why our lifestyle and food choices not only affect our physical wellbeing but also our moods and emotions and our ability to deal with stress. You no longer have to feel that there is nothing you can do to improve your experiences with low energy, depression or even anxiety. With a few great ideas, avoiding and even alleviating symptoms of these common feelings can be simple.
A decrease in the amount and level of sunlight seems to affect your biological clock (or circadian rhythm) and lead to disrupted sleep patterns, low energy and depression. Reduced sunlight may also cause a drop in serotonin, which is your “feel good” brain chemical (or neurotransmitter). Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, which affects sleep patterns and mood.
SAD contributes to SAD
Many know that SAD stands for Season Affective Disorder. Well, it also stands for Standard American Diet, which is also “sad” and can cause SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Now that I’ve completely confused you, we’re here today to explain how to avoid or eliminate Seasonal Affective Disorder. Please keep in mind; however, that avoiding the Standard American Diet of heavily processed fast and junk food is equally as critical for long-term high energy, balanced moods and emotions, clear thinking and great health.
How to Feel High Energy, Clarity and Joy All Season Long
Since we can’t all live in Hawaii for the winter, we need practical things we can do right now to improve our energy and vitality. Living a balanced life helps us to maintain more balanced mood and emotions. Simple ways to do this include the following:
- First of all, you must get plenty of good quality rest! How can you handle the stresses of the day if you are exhausted? This is one of the key factors of high performers. Making sleep a priority in your life will not only encourage high energy and productivity, it also will improve your moods and emotions, will improve your overall physical wellbeing and will help to balance your weight naturally too. When you sleep, you not only rest and rejuvenate, but your body detoxifies, heals, and balances various hormones that affect food cravings and metabolism. Consider trying to get to bed well before midnight. Some believe that the hours before midnight are the most rejuvenating. Follow the signs and rhythms of Mother Nature and when it gets dark outside, it is time to rest. This may mean a bit more hibernation in the winter months, which is a good thing!
- Consider taking a high-quality Vitamin D3 supplement. In research reported in 2014 in both the Journal of Medical Hypotheses and the Journal of Nutrients, low levels of vitamin D were linked to seasonal affective disorder and they found that people who took vitamin D supplements saw a significant improvement in their moods and emotions. For recommendations on a natural organic form of vitamin D click here.
- Get moving, preferable outside! Even if it is cold and dreary outside, getting fresh air, exercise and some daylight in our eyes does wonders. Your energy will increase dramatically as a result and it is the perfect anecdote to stress. Getting as much daylight as possible will help to improve your moods and emotions. Open up the window blinds and sit near the window during the day as much as possible too. Another accepted treatment is the light box. A study at the University of British Columbia showed that getting the proper nutrients (see below) and supplementing with vitamin D3, along with morning light box therapy, participants achieved a 64% improvement in symptoms
- Please be properly hydrated. The cells of your body and your brain are mostly water and therefore, need to be hydrated to work properly. How can you feel good and energized if you are dehydrated? Brendon Burchard, my mentor and teacher on High Performance™ suggests 3 – 5 liters per day. Also, one study showed that children who drank a glass of water before taking a test scored higher on the exam than those that did not. Being able to think clearly as you deal with life challenges certainly helps to lessen the severity of anxiety and depression.
- Never skip a meal (especially breakfast)! By eating healthy foods on a regular schedule, you will keep blood sugar balanced, which will improve your energy and clarity. Mood swings often accompany blood sugar swings, so by balancing blood sugar, moods are more balanced. Please have breakfast. Some studies show that if you skip breakfast, there is nothing you can do the rest of the day to balance your brain and body chemistry. Eating highly processed foods that are high in sugar is not the answer. Eat a meal rich with real whole plant foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds so that you are getting plenty of fiber, healthy fats and proteins (from the nuts and seeds) and natural nutrients that keep your blood sugar steady.
- Avoid highly inflammatory foods that encourage depression and anxiety such as caffeine, sugar, unhealthy processed fats such as hydrogenated fats and processed vegetable oils, artificial ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and colors. Many of these ingredients are artificial stimulants that can interfere with your serotonin levels, which is your happiness hormone. Dr. Russell Blaylock wrote about a study that linked inflammation with depression. Processed foods filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients are a huge source of inflammation and also contain excitotoxins that can affect brain and mood health. Again, drink plenty of water and eat real whole naturally raised foods and better levels of health and wellbeing are easier to obtain.
- Maintain a healthy level of beneficial bacteria in your gut. What does gut flora have to do with depression? Well, more than you may have realized before now. Yes you need a balance of beneficial bacteria to maintain a healthy digestive system and to insure the proper breakdown and assimilation of nutrients. There is also, however, a gut and brain connection that is very real. Some have recognized that people with depression tend to have insufficient levels of beneficial bacteria in their digestive systems. The thought is that the vagus nerve that runs between the digestive system and the brain plays a key role in this interaction. Also, Dr. Wurtman of MIT has explained that Serotonin, which is a major neurotransmitter or “feel good” brain chemical, is also found in the gut, and it plays an important role in mood regulation and supports relaxation and digestion. Among other things, serotonin keeps your focus sharp and your concentration keen, enables you to get a good night’s sleep and to awake happy and energized. How do you gain more beneficial bacteria? Consider the following:
- take a natural probiotic
- consume healthy fermented foods such as:
- raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
- raw naturally fermented vegetables like cabbage or kimchi
- Get enough B-vitamins in your diet to keep your energy levels high and to prevent or reduce issues with anxiety and depression. Eat foods high in Folate such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, beets, avocadoes etc… and foods high in B6, such as bananas, whole grains, legumes, sunflower seeds, carrots, spinach, peas etc… and taking a B12 supplement is helpful.
- Consider including foods high in Omega 3 fats to reduce inflammation and to aid in neurological health such as flax, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, some green leafy vegetables and algae (which is what the fish eat to get omega 3). If you are eating fish, please select only wild caught and stick with salmon, sardines, cod, herring and mackerel, which are high in omega 3.
- Eat more plant foods! Micheal Greger who runs a popular Nutrition Facts web site and who is one of the medical experts in our film, Bethany’s Story, reported on a study that showed that vegetarians tend to be happier and have more energy than non-vegetarians. The thought initially was that it was due to the fact that people who choose a more vegetarian lifestyle tend to be happier and healthier anyway. But after further studies where researchers removed all meat, fish, poultry and eggs from the diet of people suffering from depression, their moods improved after just two weeks. Further analysis found that certain foods boost your serotonin levels in your brain (again your happiness hormone). Which foods improve your happiness hormone levels? The following list is certainly a good start:
- Spinach, broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables
- Coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole Grains
Add saffron to your foods. Another report highlighted by Dr. Greger is the benefit of a spice called saffron in improving moods and emotions. Well saffron, an expensive herb or spice used in Middle Eastern food, is also a food that has been found to increase levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. According to Dr. Greger, “In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the researchers found that saffron was as effective as Prozac in reducing symptoms of depression. Participants taking saffron also reported fewer side effects such as sweating and sexual dysfunction!”
- Eat healthy forms of dark chocolate!!! Those that have been following me for years know that I am a huge fan of pure cocoa as a treat now and then. Cocoa is not only rich with minerals and antioxidants, it also has PEA (or Phenylethylamine) that helps to boost your moods and emotions. The problem with chocolate is that even if it is good dark chocolate (without dairy), chocolate candy always has sugar, which we learned above, is not a good thing for balanced moods and emotions. Peruse our web site or grab a copy of my “Fabulous Recipes for Vibrant Health” to learn easy, delicious and healthful ways to get good dark cocoa into your diet without added simple sugars.
It’s simple really… nourish your body with the foods Mother Nature has given you. When you feed your body in a healthy and balanced way, your moods become healthy and balanced. Living in balance brings about true freedom and joy. There is much pleasure in experiencing fabulously delicious foods that support your health and well being, both physical and emotional. Life is a gift and should be enjoyed by all – with a healthy body, mind and spirit.
In summary, living a healthier and more balanced life by getting plenty of rest, vitamin D, exercise, drinking fresh clean water and eating a diet rich with whole plant foods not only promotes good physical health but also provides an opportunity for you to better cope emotionally with the challenges of life. So try these suggestions and don’t forget to eat some chocolate!!!
Peruse our site to learn more ways to Embrace a Better Life.
SanaView is an organization whose mission is to inspire and teach easy, effective and enjoyable ways to Embrace a Better Life; a life that is happier, healthier and more fulfilling. Janet McKee, founder of SanaView, is one of the most vibrant, inspirational and motivational speakers of our time. She is known for captivating her audience through the use of real-life stories and anecdotal accounts that draw people in, entertain them, uplift and empower them with real solutions that they can begin to use to improve their lives immediately.
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