I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard of (and many have experienced) the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, the slow-brewing storm of improper sleep, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, and the feeling that our happiness switch has been dimmed, is the result of fewer daylight hours—affecting our circadian rhythm and serotonin output, all typically during the busiest time of the year. Here we are, showing up to work and family events, conjuring up all of the energy we have to make hors’ d'oeuvres for the holiday potluck while checking off our shopping lists, keeping up our day-to-day chores, making travel plans, working overtime, etc….all while we try our best to hide our fatigue and lackluster zest for life. Seasonal Affective Disorder is only reported to affect about 10% of the population, but the reality is that the changing of the season, cold dreary weather, and increased daily demands put a lot of us in “overdrive” mode—much more of us than the 10% reported.
At Raja Wellness, we understand the importance of self-care during this season, and we are here to help you through it. Here are a few things we have to offer that can help to significantly improve the “winter blues” along with some proactive things you can do at home:
#1: Move Your Body
Yes, as you’ve heard time and time again, one of the best ways to improve your mood is to get moving! Outside exercise during the day is optimal since you can get some sunshine in as well, but indoor exercise will also help improve feelings of gloom. You don’t have to have a gym membership, or even a whole lot of extra time each day. Setting aside 10-15 minutes for a quick and easy routine can work wonders when done consistently.
There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life without it taking time away from the rest of your responsibilities. You may choose to follow along to a YouTube video based on your current fitness level, spend a little extra time outdoors walking a local trail or playing a sport, park further away than usual at the grocery store, or even break out in a song and dance while folding laundry. When able to make the extra time, in-person classes not only offer socialization, but extra support and individual attention as well.
We’re also excited to announce that our newest member of the Raja Wellness team, Nikki Prell, is now offering yoga classes at our Magnolia location! These classes focus on breath, mindfulness, and gentle movement.
To view schedule and join us, BOOK HERE
Or, for at-home gentle exercise, check out qigong18.com
#2: Soak Up Some Rays!
The sun DOES still come out in the winter! It may not be bathing suit weather, but a little sunlight goes a long way to helping to offset the winter blues, even when we’re bundled up and trying to stay warm. When you’re indoors, consider opening the blinds for natural lighting. Natural sunlight helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles, which are thrown off when the shorter winter days roll in.
When we spend more time indoors and out of the cold, our daily dose of vitamin D is decreased. Actual direct sunshine is the best way to supply Vitamin D— the “sunshine vitamin”, which is produced naturally in the body when the skin is exposed to UV light. It plays a critical role in our overall health, and helps the body to function at its best.
#3: Eat Healthy Foods that Nourish the Body! (and keep track of it!)
A good idea in general, if we’re being honest. Eating healthfully and mindfully has so many important health benefits—and improving your mood is one of them! Have you ever tracked your eating habits by keeping a food journal (or using a food-tracking app)? This is an excellent way to not only give yourself a visual of what you’re taking in and where you can make adjustments, but also to help identify and eliminate the things that make you feel sluggish, bloated, possibly even a little cranky. When tracking your food intake, be sure to make a note of how you feel after each meal or snack.
Incorporating foods rich in Vitamin D can be helpful in fighting off the winter blues. Some of these foods include:
#4 Do you REALLY know how your body reacts to certain foods? Are you aware of what nutrients your body is deficient in? Do you know what your body needs so that you feel your best? The truth is, that there is no one perfect cookie cutter diet for everyone. We all have our individual needs, sensitivities, and beliefs—While mindfulness and tracking your intake can be helpful, if you need a more personalized approach in your journey to feeling better (and improving your mood!) through diet, check out our trusted partner, Sakina Bunch. Sakina is a Holistic Coach and Wellness advocate, and can help get you back on track through personalized nutrition coaching, cooking classes, and more!
#5 Find out how holistic therapies can help you navigate the winter blues!
Acupuncture, herbal medicine, Frequency Specific Microcurrent, reiki, and even aromatherapy can help significantly reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. By bringing the body back into balance and releasing feel-good endorphins, your mood will be lifted as will your sense of well-being. To find out more about these therapies and how they can help you, book a free 15 minute consultation with us here!
Small, consistent changes can help to boost your mood and support your overall health. Consider putting these suggestions into action and see what improvements follow!
Whether you are doing a gentle flow, are a beginner, or are ready for advanced practices, there are multiple reasons why you might want to try your hand or whole body in the practice of Yoga. While getting out and walking in the local park or walking your dog down the street might be one amazing reset for your mind and body, Asanas (poses) can be a whole new world to introduce yourself to.
With just a short moment, you can improve your balance, strength and flexibility by starting off slow and learning how to feel your body. Raise your arms high above your head. Now, take notice of how the muscles from your fingertips following down to the lower part of your back feel. Tense? Maybe you just gently lean your neck to one side. Feel the tendons and muscles creating space. Bring your head back to a neutral alignment, take a deep breath in, noting the feeling of how your navel rises and how the air moves through your throat. Feeling more relaxed already?
This is just a small look into taking time for yourself and creating space. Taking the time to notice how your body feels while you move starts to bring awareness to your inner self. This is a great start to cultivating self care and feeling some peace. Taking just a couple minutes out of your day to practice just a few poses can help not only in boosting mood and rid those holiday blues, but can help your body lubricate your joints and get the lymphatic system moving! (help fight those bugs).
After taking some time for your body to get moving now is the best part. SAVASANA! Take about five minutes to lie down and reset your nervous system, palms facing upward, not touching anything. Maybe you cover yourself with a cozy blanket and throw on some soothing music to help take your mind elsewhere—and just breathe. Notice your breath, how it feels. With every breath just let your tension go, this is your time. Once you have taken some time to let your body relax, (take more if you want!) return to a comfortable upright seated position. Take a few breaths here and slowly return to your daily activities. Take this peace with you in everything you do.
Other Basic Poses You May Try:
1. From a standing position, bring the feet hip width apart & parallel. Lift up the toes, spread them wide and place them back on the floor. Feel your weight evenly balanced through the bottom of each foot.
2. Flex the thighs and allow the tailbone to drop slightly. The legs are straight, but the knees are soft.
3. Inhale and lift the crown of the head up towards the ceiling, feeling the spine long and straight.
4. Exhale and drop the shoulders down and back as you reach the fingertips towards the floor.
5. Breathe and hold for 9 breaths.
6. To release: exhale & relax the arms down to your sides or bring the palms together in front of your chest.
Standing Forward Fold
1. From Mountain pose, exhale forward hinging at the hips. Bend the knees enough to bring the palms flat to the floor and the head close to the knees.
2. Feel the spine stretching in opposite directions as you pull the head down and in and press the hips up. Work on straightening the legs to deepen the stretch in the backs of the legs.
3. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths, actively pressing the belly into the thighs on the inhalation.
4. To release: bend the knees keeping the back straight, inhale and slowly roll the spine up and open the shoulders at the top returning to Mountain Pose.
1. Step the right leg forward with the right knee bent, engage the legs to ground down through the feet. Use the arms to draw the torso back slightly. Make sure the right knee is directly over the right ankle.
2. Bring the hands to the hips and square the hips and the shoulders to the front wall. Relax the shoulders down and draw the shoulderblades towards the spine to open the chest.
3. Inhale, place arms over the head in a H position with the palms facing each other. Keep the shoulders relaxed and the chest lifted.
4. To go deeper, bring the palms together and carefully arch back and look up towards the ceiling.
5. Inhale deeply into the belly and chest, exhale, press into the feet, fingers and crown, feeling your body expanding out in 5 directions.
6. Keep breathing and hold for 3-6 breaths.
7. To release, exhale and step back into Mountain Pose. Repeat on the left leg.
If you enjoyed this brief intro to yoga, or are interested in getting back into yoga, we have NEW YOGA CLASSES, hosted by the wonderful Nikki Prell. Nikki is an experienced instructor, and will help guide you through YOUR Yoga Journey in a safe, welcoming, and non-judgmental atmosphere! All proceeds to Nikki’s “Mindful Movement Intro Class” benefit the PTSD Relief Project, a non-profit supporting Veterans and their families.