Did you know that 6 out of every 100 Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD? With the dark cold days of winter, getting out of bed each morning can be a challenge. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, many people experience fatigue as the temperature plummets.
No one likes moping about on the couch all winter long, so try these natural mood- and energy-lifters from Dr. Elin Ritchie, a specialist in family alternative medicine. He notes,’This time of year can be exhausting for many reasons. But a few simple lifestyle changes, healthful diet and immune system support can help you feel more energized throughout the season.’ Here are some of Dr. Ritchie’s tips:
1. Get as much (safe) sun exposure as possible. Open drapes and blinds as soon as you get up to allow sunlight into your home. Get as much time outdoors as your schedule and the weather permit. Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D in your body and also benefits your mental health. Remember, though, to use sunscreen, as the sun’s ultraviolet rays can still damage your skin, even in winter.
2. Stick to a reliable sleep schedule as much as possible. Go to bed and rise at the same time every day. And make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep – declutter, choose comfortable and comforting linens, and turn off the TV.
3. Choose foods that are high in protein. Fruits and vegetables provide many healthful benefits and definitely belong in your diet. But for long-lasting energy, you’ll get more benefit from lean protein (like chicken and fish) and complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread or beans. Avoid too much sugar. No matter how tempting those holiday treats appear, sugar’s energy rush is usually followed by an energy drop that can leave you feeling more fatigued.
4. Find ways to relax. The cooler seasons can be a very stressful time and stress can keep you awake at night. To combat natural levels of stress, find and incorporate activities that relax you into your daily routine. Relieving stress can help improve sleep patterns.