The holiday season has officially started. The season includes festivities, food, drink-and stress. Let’s try to put it all in perspective to get the best out of it.
- Lighten it up. One thing we in the Northern Hemisphere know all too well is that there is less daylight from fall to early spring. Less daylight can lead to the blues and potential irritability, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- A few tips to help fight those blues would include consuming more foods/supplements with omega 3 fatty acids. Omega fatty acids have been shown to improve mood. Food sources include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Discuss any supplementation with your healthcare practitioner prior to consuming as omega fatty acids can interfere with some medications.
- Set the mood. Another important component to mood and brain health is vitamin D. We physically and emotionally feel better when we have exposure to sunlight (which is the best source of the vitamin), however that’s not always possible in winter months. If we live north of the latitudes of Atlanta or Los Angeles, it’s a good bet we don’t get adequate vitamin D from casual exposure to sunlight. Consuming foods with vitamin D or fortified (fortified means adding something that is not a natural component of the food) with vitamin D can help. Natural sources include cod liver oil, salmon and tuna (notice that these are also god sources of omega-3 fatty acids). Milk and cereals are typically fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are also something to think about. Daily recommendation for vitamin D is 800-1,000 iu.
- Engage. Try to get out and socialize. Being around others can help improve mood, shake away those blues and enhance the holiday experience.
- Exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (http://www.acsm.org/) lists 100 benefits of exercise. A few benefits include calorie burning, improved mood, stress reduction.
- Take advantage of where you are. Whether in the mall or grocery store, take a few extra laps around the perimeter of the store to get a little more exercise.
- Sing or dance. Singing or dancing can lift the spirits. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your car and humming away or in your home tearing up the rug dancing away. Music can help life our moods. Both singing and dancing are great exercise as well.
- Smile and laugh. The simple act of smiling can release chemicals that actually help us feel better. Try it. When you’re in a situation where you are feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed, just start to smile. It will put you in a calmer state and change the perspective a bit.
- Remember it’s about celebration…and not to be taken too seriously. Ho Ho Ho!