Now that we have so-called Blue Monday behind us, maybe now is the perfect time to sit back and reflect on exactly why January can be so hard for some people. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s a long time until pay day… and even longer until the weather begins to warm and the flowers begin to bloom again. Add to that the fact that so many of us are back to work after a lovely festive break with family, and let’s not forget the gloom of the streets now that the twinkling lights have disappeared… So its little wonder January is pegged as the bluest month of the year! But does it have to be that way? Ok, so all of the above are true facts about this month, but that really doesn’t mean you need to allow yourself to get swept along. You can beat the blues naturally- here are three tips for soothing the body and mind.
It seems so simple, and so easy to do… and then you look outside at the driving rain and the dark skies and you think “hmm, no thanks!”- but every time you choose to stay inside rather than brace the fresh air of the outside world, you’re actually dragging yourself further down into the dumps. Let’s look at it this way. Inside, you’re breathing less fresh air and exposing your skin to more artificial heating and other nasties that you can’t always control. Outside, your air is cleaner and natural- meaning your skin has a chance to breathe. And this is just scratching the surface. Being outside will also help to raise your endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosting hormones, and- of course- your vitamin D levels too.
We need vitamin D for a host of reasons, and yet one in six of us in the UK are deficient. Vitamin D is converted in the body by natural sunlight, meaning you need to get outside in order for your levels to rise. So what does a vitamin D deficiency look like? Notice any of these symptoms lately?
- Depression/ low mood
- Cognitive impairment
Studies have also linked low vitamin D to type one and two diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis too. Patients with low vitamin D often experience overall body pain and there are risks to the bones too. All of this makes for pretty grim reading, but there is plenty you can do about it! Get your levels checked if you think you may be low, and get outside more often if you can. Your doctor may recommend a supplement, but please do seek medical advice before you start.
Get more sleep
We say this often enough, but when you’re not getting enough quality sleep your overall health suffers. You find it harder to lose weight, you’re irritable and anxious, you may suffer from depression and low moods, your reactions time are slow, you lose your ‘get up and go’. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst things we can suffer with from a holistic view as it can affect almost everything in your life. We all know how much better we feel after a good night’s sleep, right? So let’s set some good habits for 2017 shall we? Some tips for a better night’s sleep:
- Keep a ‘worry journal. If anxiety/ worries keep you awake at night then try tackling this head on. A worry journal is simply a notebook where you write down your worries, or the thoughts that occur when you’re trying to sleep. Just the act of writing them down can often be enough to banish them from the ‘important things to think about’ list. But if not, the trick is to then close the journal and promise yourself you won’t visit it until tomorrow. The idea is that you then shut down the worry so that you can sleep. Just don’t write your journal before bedtime, otherwise there is a risk you won’t be able to switch off.
- Carry out a sleep hygiene check list. By this, we mean make sure that you have everything you need for a good night’s sleep. A comfortable bed, a tidy space in which to sleep, temperature set just right etc.
- Exercise regularly- just not before bed!
- Avoid processed food and alcohol. Eat as cleanly as you can- we use the 80/20 rule here at Little Soap HQ and it works for us. We all deserve a little treat now and then, but remember that everything you put into your body has an affect, so choose wisely.
- Meditate. Find more information here.
It really does go without saying. Everything you eat has an affect on your whole body. Your weight, your mood, your skin, your hair, your state of mind. If you’re dining out on processed food and sugar, you are going to feel rubbish- because you’re eating rubbish! But if you swap that for all natural, wholesome beautiful food, well then you’re going to feel beautiful too! Two foods that naturally boost your mood are healthy fats and foods high in B Vitamins. So when you do your next grocery shop, make sure you include:
- Wild caught salmon
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Brown rice
- Dark green vegetables
- low fat dairy products
Note that sugar, alcohol and nicotine will deplete your vitamin B levels, so stay away from them! Studies have found that low levels of folate, B-6, and B-12 have been linked to depression, so increasing your intake could well help with the January blues. But, please, remember that if you are suffering from depression it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor who can advise on the best way forward for you.