By Dr. Robyn Prescott, Naturopathic Physician
Fall this year has taken everyone by surprise with the rapid transition from a glorious warm sunny summer to this cold and blustery bold statement that fall has indeed arrived. Many of my patients are expressing how recently they have been feeling low, a bit more fatigued then normal, and just uneasy with the transition. Even in myself I have noticed urges to stay in bed longer, hibernate, and curl up under a warm blanket with a cup of tea. This led me to write this blog about how you can warmly accept fall.
I love fall – but sometimes the transition to a different state takes a bit of time and there are some ways to make this season change easier and a positive experience.
Try to take a moment to incorporate these small changes:
- Eat warming foods – your digestion requires lots of blood flow to process your food and during the colder days your body needs to use more energy to produce heat. Warm up your digestive system with herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, chipotle, and cayenne to help your system’s internal heater. How I have done this is through making vegetarian curries, burrito bowls, and squash or chicken noodle soups. Sometimes I find this is a nice time of the year to do a short diet change. My husband and I are currently doing 2 weeks of vegetarian/vegan to help reset and get back into a healthy schedule.
- Drink more tea – now is the time to order your favorite teas – one of my absolute favorites for this time of year is the Traditional Medicinals ginger. Ginger tea is warming and also very helpful for digestion. Other good options would include chai tea or other teas with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.
- Candles – as the sun sets earlier it is important to light and warm your spaces with the yellow glow of candle light. Often I find treating yourself to a pine or spruce scented candle can lightly scent your space and help you relax and accept fall. Of course please use your personal judgement as some patients can be highly allergic to scents. Make sure it is safe for you. I typically buy soy or beeswax candles – one of my favorites is the North Shore candle by Vancouver Candle Co.
- Warm and fuzzy blankets – on a rainy day nothing is more satisfying then taking the time to curl up under a warm blanket sipping a cup of tea with a good story. Consider reading that book you have been meaning to all summer or go and treat yourself to thought provoking novel. I find myself gravitating towards books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Blink to stimulate my mind and get it ready for powering through the next few months ahead.
If none of these things help – maybe there is more to the story? Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you have felt depressed for two or more consecutive winters and you feel significantly better in the spring and summer. Typically there are some compounding factors that should be considered that may be the underlying cause of your low mood:
- What are your vitamin D levels? I always check vitamin D levels in patients at risk of SAD. Low levels are highly correlated with an increase in mood disorders.
- Serotonin levels? Questionnaires or seeing your doctor can help determine what neurotransmitter you may be low in. Serotonin is one often contributing to SAD. To help this I have had great success with herbs and nutrients specific to build neurotransmitters.
- What is your circadian rhythm doing? Often sleep quality and length are important for a healthy and happy mind. There are specific nutrients we can use like 5-HTP, theanine, and magnesium glycinate to name a few that help to reset and promote a healthy circadian rhythm. For more info on circadian rhythm see my next blog post!
Happy fall nesting!