How to Cure 'The Februaries' Without Leaving New England
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
So how's that new year's resolution going?! I hope you are still gung-ho about your new yoga practice, exercise routine and healthy eating plan, but if you are like many in the northeast in February, your resolve might be starting to wane! Even somewhat 'easy' winters like this one, can start to feel very long by the time you get to February.
You might feel vaguely cranky but have no idea why. You are trying to eat healthy still, but kind of annoyed by it. You don't feel sick, but you don't exactly feel healthy either. You started exercising again in January, but now you just want to sleep in and press the snooze button! What happened?!
What happened is that the stresses of winter have started to accumulate and by February, many of us are really starting to feel its effects. There is some really interesting science behind why this happens. Decreased daytime sunlight exposure will over time start to disrupt your circadian rhythm, which can then negatively impact key body regulating hormones such as melatonin and serotonin. Sunshine really is nature's alarm clock, and gives us a boost of energy as well as positive mood & motivation. When we miss out on this, our internal 'clock' can struggle.
So what can we do to shake the February doldrums? Here are a few tips to see you through till spring!
1. Cut Yourself Some Slack.
This is so important! Try not to be so hard on yourself for not feeling AWESOME all the time. I just saw The Lego Movie #2 and they have a new song called, "Everything's NOT awesome!" My husband and I had a great laugh listening and nodding while singing along. It's ok for life to not be awesome all the time. So go easy on yourself, and breathe through some of the discontent.
2. Make Sure to Soak in Some February SUNSHINE!
The sun this time of year is getting stronger, even if it might not feel that way. In fact, February sun is equivalent in strength to the sun in October, so make sure to catch some vitamin D when you can! Oh and keep taking that vitamin D supplement! If you really have the Februaries, you have a supplement that you've suddenly forgotten to take.
3. Get WARM:)
My outdoor hot tub and my wood stove are my absolute BEST FRIENDS in the winter! I don't care if it's 10 degrees outside, I will brave the elements to get in that hot tub and warm my chilly bones. But if you have a nice indoor tub, you don't have to be crazy like I am. Add some Epsom salts to a bath and soak for an added muscle relaxation effect. If you have a fireplace, hang out by it and stretch, read and relax by it with friends and family. These naturally warming elements will nourish your body and your spirit!
4. Eat some carbs.....??!!
OMG did I just suggest eating carbs!? Yes indeed I did and there's some science to back up why. Carbs boost serotonin, calming and nourishing the spirit. This is why everyone craves them so much and its been given the high honor of being everyone's comfort food! The problem is when we eat the crappy processed variety (sorry, you knew there had to be a catch...)! Make some healthy carbohydrate choices that will help beat the winter blues! Some 'healthy carbs' are oatmeal, bananas, sweet potatoes, quinoa, apples, legumes and whole grain sprouted breads (with almond butter, yum!).
5. Get out of the house and do some self-care!
I know it's cold and dark, but make sure to get out of the house and keep doing the practices in your life that make you feel good. Whether it's yoga, massage, acupuncture or getting to the gym, it can be hard to motivate in February. Again see tip #1 and don't beat yourself up about it, yet on the other hand, a little push out the door and you will usually feel so much better once you are there!
Acupuncture treatments can support the release of endorphins that help with pain as well as stress. It also boosts the immune system which is so important this time of year! Call us if you need us and if you have a friend who you think might benefit, we are offering 20% off new patient appointments during the month of February!
See you soon and be well:)
Melissa is a self described 'nerd' about all topics relating to health and wellness. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and co-owner of Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing.