The brown, withered pine needles on the sitting room floor are a stark reminder that the festive high is about to come crashing down! The Three Wise men yet to come the thought of what happens after January 6th can be foreboding and fill many people with a sense of dread. Listening to the radio and reading through media there is an expectation to get off your backside, give up sugar, alcohol, partying and carousing and prepare yourself for a complete turnaround which involves nibbling on microgreens and sipping watermelon juice! The first step to “beating the January blues” is to switch off from this current hype, after all, the same media frenzy had us pouring a glass of Baileys for elevenses less than three weeks ago! While it is true, the start of a new year offers the perfect opportunity to begin again, to resolve to be a better human and self-improve, the fear of change and the fear of failure is enough to blow the best of intentions in a very short time. The reality is that every day of the year offers us the exact same opportunity to improve the way we experience life. There is no need to pile on extra pressure right now and instead, enjoy the rest of the Winter while planning and dreaming of the more active days yet to come.
What are the Blues?
The term “blues” is associated with a short period of depression, low mood and/or agitation that can affect anyone at any time during the year. Many people will feel low as the Christmas holidays end, family moving away again, maybe overspending and over-indulgence can be hard to take once the party is over – feeling a bit down post-Christmas is not unusual and will pass in a short time once normal routines return. The January Blues suggests that things will improve once Spring comes around. The stark difference between December’s festivities and the stillness of January is often the main trigger for the January Blues.
Sshhh...Nature is sleeping!
Let us not forget that we are still in Winter, a quiet time in Nature with many plants and mammals still resting. It’s a reflective time for humans, ideal for making plans and preparing for the year ahead, but may not be favourable just yet for a sprint up Mt. Brandon!
Food this time of year reflects the low position of Earth energy. From within the ground comes a wealth of root vegetables, dark greens and hardy cruciferous such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kale. The long growing period of these vegetables allows them to absorb more minerals from the Earth which in turn keeps us grounded and nourished throughout the Winter season. Bones and meat cuts for slow cooking are best this time of year, again, reflecting the need for mineral-rich foods for sustenance throughout the darker, cooler days. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, sodium, silica and selenium go deep into the body reaching our core and restoring jaded bones, kidneys, adrenals and nervous system. The longer cooking times of Winter foods helps extract as much minerals as possible from meat, fish, seaweeds and plant sources. When people relied on their own surroundings for nourishment, preserved foods such as dried nuts, wholegrains. fermented and cured meats and fish and fermented and pickled vegetables made up for any shortfall in fresh produce. Although our supermarkets are filled with produce grown unnaturally all year round, foods that are true to their season or preserved by simple, traditional methods still offer the best nutrition to stave off Winter woes and seasonal mood disorders.
Get the Sunshine Vitamin in!
Vitamin D levels are at their lowest during January as our Summer stores are certainly depleted by now. Despite the glorious sunshine of last Summer we probably did not spend enough time exposed to the sun to ensure enough vitamin D to see us through the Winter. Low vitamin D status is strongly associated with low mood and depression. Vitamin D supplementation is a first line therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), confirming the correlation between vitamin D status and mood disorders. The best approach to vitamin D is to get tested and get a proper dosage guide to supplementation. The current RDA for vitamin D3 in adults is 400 – 800iu (or 10-20 micrograms). This is out-dated and inadequate for most adults living in Ireland during the Winter, and more so for those with low mood, depression and SAD. A more accurate dosage guide to supplement with Vitamin D3 is quite individual as it depends on current vitamin D status, body weight, gender, skin tone and your present health status among other factors. Newer research suggests that 1000iu to 4000iu (25-100 micrograms) Vitamin D3 is required to reach and maintain optimal Vitamin D levels throughout the Winter months. As Vitamin D plays such an important role in nerve and brain health, as well as immunity and bones, it is worthwhile to have your vitamin D status established and corrected accordingly, at least once per year.
Any episode of depression is exacerbated by alcohol, food binging and poor sleep, which is another reason why some people really feel the full brunt of the blues in January. Getting into a good routine soon after Christmas will help shorten a bout of blues. Focus on feeling healthy by cutting out as much crap food as possible, eat three home-cooked meals a day, get outside in Nature for a stretch or a stroll, enjoy a warm mineral soak before bed and take a break from alcohol. If you can’t do it all, do one healthy thing and then another. This way, instead of feeling a total wreck, you will arrive on Spring’s doorstep, well rested, restored and prepared to ease into the next phase of the year.
Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy & Wholesome New Year! If you are looking for a personal nutrition coach to support you this year, don't hesitate to get in touch for a chat. No obligation but let's explore what kind of support you need and if I can provide it for you x
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