Wintering well

Many people believe its normal to feel sluggish in the depths of winter but is that a true perspective?

The shorter daylight hours would normally make for a change in melatonin levels, thus triggering the natural response to get more sleep over winter.  However, with the prolific use of back-lit electronic devices, this mechanism in particular is disturbed.  Aside from the effect of light, we have a tendency to eat more starchy foods when the weather is cold; that in itself isn't a bad thing but some foods are known to slow down the metabolism and therefore interfere with the modern need to be active for much more of the day than we would naturally be.  Grain starches make some people sleepy so are best eaten in the evening;  PUFA heavy foods (nuts, seeds and their oils to name a few) are eaten by the animal kingdom before they hibernate as they are difficult to digest..  So imagine an already slow metabolism, to which we add comfort foods (and drinks), and between-meals snacks that we hope will give us a boost.  A downward spiral develops over the winter months until we realise how far we've slid down that slippery slope and that maybe its time to do something about it.

Firstly, resist the snacking - adding to partially digested food means none of it gets digested effectively further down in the gut.  Play the waiting game, even if it means skipping a meal to allow your body to catch up, and enjoy the feeling of true hunger before you eat - your digestion will thank you for it.  If your digestion is weak due to stress, then supplement HCl (lots of abdominal gas/bloating is an indicator) to improve your absorption.

Secondly, get to bed sooner!  Sleep is the finest tonic for a tired liver and if you're lucky enough to be able to get 9 hours at a time, your adrenals will also benefit from a re-charge. At this time of year, we're meant to do some catching up on rest and recharge after the long daylight months where we overspend on available energy.  Winter is a time for taking stock and taking it easy; override the seductive social media fear of missing out and switch off

Thirdly, get moving!  Exercise is a must to get your system running efficiently and to help reduce your toxic load (toxins are produced all of the time by the processing of everything we put into our mouths and the usual maintenance work within the body).  Any exercise that gets you out of breath is good but the older (or more unfit) we are, it can take longer to get to the stage when you can comfortably sustain that level of activity for at least 20 minutes.  Doing what you can regularly and more when you are able is a good yard stick; its about adopting the mentality of keeping ourselves moving and active that matters. Your lymphatic system will also benefit from the activity and you'll sleep better and find you don't wake up feeling worse than when you went to bed.

All of this is pretty much common sense and I'm sure you've all heard it before, but there is one more thing that helps us get through winter more effectively - a positive outlook.  Wintering well is all about the composite effect of the little things we do, so take a look at your life and pare back some of those habits.  The slimmed down life will give you more time to rest and consider what you really want to be doing come the spring.


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