Happy Holidays!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hannukah filled with family, friends and most importantly, great food!  I got a chance to catch up with family in Boston (including seeing my 2 adorable nephews!) but most importantly I got a chance to relax a little bit, something that I hope many of you got to do as well.

A lot of clients that I’ve had in my office the past few weeks have told me that instead of feeling the holiday cheer, they are finding that their mood and energy has started to slip.

This is extremely common as we approach the shortest day of the year when we may not even see the sunlight outside of working hours.

As levels of sunlight drop and we process less and less sunlight through our eyes, it’s common to see serotonin levels drop impacting our mood, energy levels, appetite, sex drive and sleep cycles.

Whether you are struggling with already diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, which many sources indicate could impact as many as 1 in 5 clients in northern climates, or just find you don’t feel as energetic this time of year, there is a lot you can do to help to get through the winter smiling (and even laughing!).

Here are my tips to help your holiday’s be happy ones:

1) Enjoy the sunshine while it’s out there:  Jackets, hats, gloves and scarves.  They were made so that you could continue to enjoy the sunshine even when mother nature isn’t being all that cooperative.  Even 30 minutes outside (walking after lunch or parking further away everywhere you go for the day) helps boost your skin’s natural absorption of Vitamin D and raises endorphins to help elevate your mood.  For those of you whose eyes are now rolling at this suggestion promise me you’ll try it just once.  Even if a walk outside is the last thing on earth you want to do, DO IT!  I promise you won’t regret it.

 

2) Light Therapy:  Exposing your system to light is not only a natural way to support serotonin production, but studies have also shown it boosts productivity at work.  When I lived in Oregon we had one in our kitchen that we turned on every morning to help get through the grey days that seemed to last forever.

 

3) Essential oils: These have been shown to impact the limbic system—the same area of the brain that plays a role in our circadian rhythm and mood. Lemon balm, Grapefruit, Bergamont, Frankincense, Peppermint, Rosemary and Sage are all useful for their uplifting properties. Find a few you love and apply behind your ears, add to a nice bath, buy a candle or add to a humidifier at night.

 

4) Surround yourself with house plants:  There is absolutely no scientific proof for this one but I think there is a reason we naturally surround ourselves with holly, poinsettias, wreaths, and mistletoe—it’s because lively, colorful greenery cheers us up and brings life to spaces that otherwise might feel gloomy.

 

5) Vitamin D: This is the most common general supplement recommendation I make  since it has been shown time and again to help lift mood, especially in the winter months.  If you don’t know your levels taking up to 2,000 IU daily is generally considered safe during the winter.  However, many of you may need more so get your levels tested (ideal Vitamin D numbers are between 50-80) and take extra as indicated by your doctor.

 

6) Herbs & Supplements: A few of my favorite for helping with Seasonal Affective Disorder are St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan, Sam-e and liquid B-complex’s.  Everybody is different so what works for one person may not work for another and these can interact with certain medications so make sure to check with your doctor if you want to try one!

And of course it goes without saying: drink water, eat well and laugh as much as you can!

Happy Holidays to you all,

Dr. Katie


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