A post about SAD and how you can lessen the symptoms if this is something you see occurring in your daily life.
As humans, we are greatly influenced by the environments we surround ourselves in. Throughout the winter months, it is not easy to stay as motivated, positive and content as we are during the summer.
Personally, I am a summer body. The sun makes me feel some sort of way that I cannot explain. I thrive on hot days and have really come to not like being cold. When I moved to Penticton, in the Okanagan, I thought I would be experiencing less cold of a climate but boy I was wrong.
Second try now and I have moved to Vancouver. The rain capital. However, I do not like to think of rain as a downer. Rain is refreshing and rejuvenating, we could not live as humans without it. Rain grows our plants and cleans our air but can also bring a lot of people down.
I will admit that Seasonal Affective Disorder is easy to be consumed by and can have many negative affects on the human body BUT your state of mind plays an HUGE role on how you feel. If you wake up everyday, dreading the weather, you will notice negative emotions. On the other hand, if you wake up with a positive attitude and optimistic mindset, you may notice more positive emotions.
Now let's get into what SAD is and how we can treat or prevent it.
According to the Mayo Clinic,
"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer" (2018).
Now take a moment to reflect on your past, have you experienced this before?
Previously, Rachel and I had a harsh winter in 2015/2016. We both realized that the weather and other situations in our lives resulted in using having SAD. It was not fun, we were emotional, confused and stressed out. The year we moved in together, we both promised each other that we could not let this happen again.
The Mayo Clinic offers a list of symptoms once can experience when diagnosed with SAD:
Now, it is important to notice if you feel these symptoms only throughout certain seasons or throughout an entire year. If this goes on longer than a few months, it would be a good idea to see a physician.
In the winter months, we see people with SAD very much oversleeping, overeating and having extremely low levels of energy. Do you feel this way?
Mayo also states some of the potential causes of SAD:
Once Rachel and I noticed ourselves feeling this way, we realized something needed to change. Here are some ideas of how you can overcome the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder without having to visit a physician:
1. Take your Vitamin D
As Canadians, we are prone to having low levels of Vit D throughout the non sunny months. Each individual requires a certain dose of Vitamin D so I am not going to recommend an universal amount because it may not work for all of us. (PERSONALLY, I take 6-8 drops of 1000 IU's daily). Keeping up with these doses can help your immune system and energy levels.
2. Create a list of things you LOVE about winter
Some ideas include: Snow, blue sky on a cold day, skating, knitting, wearing mittens and scarves, tea, looking at Christmas lights, family events.
3. Prepare your body for colder temperatures
An idea from Rachel:
"I also think it's a good idea to practice being cold so it is less over whelming and you can feel better about leaving the comfort of inside. So during a hot shower, switch the water to cold for like 30-50 breaths and let the cold water touch all of you, then turn it back to the hot temp. This will not only help your immunity, but it will push you out of your comfort zone, and you feel more alive after."
I will not stop telling everyone how importance this factor is in your overall health. Take advantage of how you body moves. Walking in the winter is one of my favourite activities and can easily burn as many calories as a hard gym session. Notice your surroundings!
5. Get enough sleep
Since it darker more often, go to bed earlier and maybe give yourself a bit of time to sleep in. Do not get mad at yourself for being tired, it is what our biology has evolved from. Winter is a time to rest and rejuvenate, but not sleep all day.
6. Eat healthy
Don't forget to have your daily intake of greens, vitamins and minerals throughout the cold seasons. Indulge from time to time which treats but don't let that become a habit. Take your vitamins to encourage healthy levels throughout the body.
7. Learn how to recover your body faster from over indulgences
Throughout the holiday season, it can be easy to fall into a state of lower mood and energy, especially after a night out with some friends. Here are the ideas I found that work best for me:
-A HUGE glass of water after a night out of drinking before bed
-Some sort of snack before bed to absorb the alcohol
-A healthy, balanced breakfast with lots of carbs for energy
-Vitamins and Electrolytes
-Allow yourself treats but follow with a healthy snack or meal to encourage proper digestion
8. Light Therapy
Many of those who live with SAD, invest in light therapy. You can find a way to bring it into your house or have it done by a professional. It provides you with a good length of exposure to healthy light, to increase positive neurotransmitters and emotions throughout the body.
9. Yoga/ Meditation
Maybe it is time for you to create a meditation sequence for yourself. Maybe you need to write down some mantras so you can repeat these to yourself daily. Don't be afraid to try new things. I like to notice when the full and new moons are happening to ensure I can adapt to them accordingly with rituals and habits. Humans are attached to the weather, the environment and most especially the moon and sun.
10. Fresh air
BREATHE IN THE COLD AIR. THAT IS ALL IT TAKES. (If you can't, put some peppermint oil underneath your nose).
11. Non-prescription Medications
In the past, when I was struggling with figuring our what would decrease my anxiety symptoms the most, I tried both of these. I noticed positive benefits but did not carry on with the doses. From time to time I take 5HTP if I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
5HTP- 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
GABA- GABA is taken by mouth for relieving anxiety, improving mood, reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, stabilizing blood pressure, and relieving pain.
12. Stay social
As humans we crave connection. Instead of pushing people away at this hard time of the year, bring them in closer. Tell someone if you are struggling. Go to that party, say hi to that friend. Little changes make the big differences.
13. Add light to your environment
You can open your blinds, add plants to your house and ensure nothing is blocking your windows. Make your space open and fresh with light coming in from the earth each day.
14. Keep your immune system up
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!
This is a huge one for myself and everyone that knows me. Unfortunately, winter can come with decreased immunity. To prevent this you can:
-Drink Kombucha for proper gut healing bacteria
-Take Manuka Honey for anti-bacterial properties
-Drink tea daily for it's anti-oxidant properties.
-Indulge in citrus fruits and vegetables with high amounts of Vitamin C
-Make a homemade tonic (check out my last blog post)
-Take your Vitamin D!
Now that you have gone through this entire post learning about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I hope you can learn from it. If you are experiencing the symptoms, talk to someone. Write down a few goals of how to overcome this. Everything will be okay. Summer will be here eventually.
Thank you for reading How To Flourish.
Unfortunately, it is the time of the year where people are coming down with weakened immune systems, poor digestion and overall lower health than normal. As someone who is studying the health and wellness of our society, I continually aim to boost my body systems, especially when I notice myself burning out.
Recently, I have seen my digestion, immune and energy levels have been extremely low. I feel constantly tired, aggravated and sluggish. Maybe this is because I'm taking 6 courses at school? Maybe this is because it is winter time? Whatever the reason, I needed to make a change.
There are MANY wonderful ways to help your body feel your best in the winter season, a great one includes taking in proper macro and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Kaylee (my roommate) and I are always reminding each other to take vitamins and minerals daily. I have posted sticky notes around the house to remind us a little extra.
The other day, I was searching up immune boosters on the internet and came across common ingredients. So I decided to brew one up myself. I have always been a fan of combining herbs and natural sources to increase your health so this is one of my many tests.
I decided to create an anti-inflammatory tonic. So, I retrieved my giant mason jar (which was recently full of pickles) and decided to whip up a nice recipe. It was very simple to make as the ingredients are household items I always have. If you are feeling out of it, this may help you to feel better.
Most items on this list are accompanied by a source of information you can click on to further your interest. Also, these ingredients are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I intend to go to school for in the future after Douglas College.
Here is what the tonic consisted of:
Traditionally known to help nausea and upset stomach, ginger is a great digestive herb. There are new studies relating to the use of ginger for pain management with arthritis as well. You do not want to take extreme doses of ginger and pregnant women should take it with caution.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
ACV if taken properly can be used to reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels and all anthropometric measures (body fat %, waist circumference, BMI, etc.). This one study shows it's effectiveness in obese and overweight individuals in increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. ACV can also aid in regulating appetite.
(not everyone may have access to this file)
Can also be known as Curcumin and is mainly known for it's anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. It is also an anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-parasitic. Scientists are working on increasing it's bioavailability to the body in vitamin/pill/liquid form however powder form works great to add to your diet.
Known historically for it's multiple uses in health, cinnamon can minimally aid in those with Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Cinnamon can improve appetite and relieve indigestion. Cinnamon has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties to it that can overall increase one's health.
(also may have trouble accessing)
A great way to get some Vitamin C which can benefit the immune system. Although Vitamin C is not directly proven to get rid of the common cold, it can aid in in boosting our body's natural defence. According to an article from Canada's Natural Health and Wellness Magazine, lemons also provide a good source of potassium, with anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties.
Raw honey is full of antioxidants, which are known to reduce damage from oxidative stress we are exposed to. Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties make it special in this delicious tonic.
This oil may have been over-estimated in it's health benefits initially but it should not be forgotten about. Coconut oil is anti-microbial and contains anti-carcinogenic effects (carcinogens are from emitted radiation). The small amount in this drink adds subtle sweetness.
Holistic health practitioners recommend bitters for digestive health. It is considered a tonic known to secrete gastric juices and bile in the stomach. The current one I use is called "Iberogast" that contains a variety of herbs and roots for gastro-intestinal disturbances (bloating, upset, gas, etc.).
This allows the tonic to fully soak up each nutrient effectively.
The full recipe:
(I chose to create this in a large quantity so I could have a shot or glass of it each morning and night, feel free to only use half of the suggested amounts).
GINGER ROOT (1/4 cup grated or chopped)
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (1/3 cup)
TURMERIC (2 tablespoons)
CINNAMON (1 tablespoon)
LEMON (1 large slice)
RAW HONEY (1/4 cup)
COCONUT OIL (1/8 cup)
DIGESTIVE BITTERS (10-30 drops)
HOT WATER (enough to fill the jar)
1. Chop ginger and lemon.
2. Place all ingredients in a large jar.
3. Boil a full kettle. Once hot, place water into jar, filling it to the top.
4. Stir well, let sit overnight.
5. Strain the tonic well.
6. Enjoy as a shot or diluted in a glass of water.
Hopefully this post encouraged some of you to try your own homemade tonics. They are simple and effective for helping your overall holistic health.
Thanks for reading how to flourish.
Recently, I have had many of my followers asking for meal inspirations and ideas regarding healthy eating. Since I am now sitting in an airport waiting for a new flight because mine got cancelled, I'm going to be productive with this time. I am creating this post for all of you.
Nutrition and healthy eating has been a long journey of mine since I can remember. I have always had food sensitives and allergies, making it difficult to eat regularly. To add even more, I am a proud vegetarian. This combination has lead to myself eating a lot of vegan options. I am not 100% vegan. I also am not caught up on the title of being vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, whatever anyone would like to call it. Who cares what it is called, as long as you are eating to feel your best.
The main goals of my eating habits are to eat less animals, more protein, lots of nutrients and less processed or genetically modified food items. If one can learn about the mind body spirit connection and endorse it while eating, this turns food into medicine, not restrictions. I aim to eat what makes me feel my best, with the addition of adding treats here and there.
This post is going to cover what I normally eat in a day, the recipes and the importance of specific nutrients. Enjoy!
*Please notice how I do not properly measure my ingredients. This encourages me to eat whatever I want whenever I want it. It also encourages me to be mindful of when I am full, and then stop eating when it is appropriate. If you are focused on losing weight, it may be a good idea to measure your foods to ensure you are not eating a surplus of calories. *
Ah, the most important meal of the day, it's true. Breakfast allows us to start the day off properly. It is a time to eat foods that will provide you endless energy for the day, that can be either sweet or savoury.
My favourite breakfasts follows:
Peanut Butter Protein Cereal
-1 sliced banana
-1 large handful of blueberries (I always have frozen on hand)
-Your favourite type of cereal (Some of mine are Nature's Path Golden Turmeric Cereal or corn flakes sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar)
-Powdered peanut butter
-Soy Milk (8 grams of protein per CUP)
-Half scoop of your protein powder
-Chia seeds, coconut or any type of nutritious topping
I mix all of this together in a large bowl and consume it with a large cup of matcha tea. Having protein in the morning helps you recover fast from previous workouts, start your energy levels for the day and improve digestion.
-1 tsp of matcha powder
-1 tsp of raw honey
- 1 sprinkle of cinnamon
-1 splash of soy milk
-Extra Additives (I add medicinal mushroom powder for digestion and Spirulina for my greens intake)
Mix with hot water. Matcha is an ancient powder used for it's antioxidants. It will give you large amounts of energy.
Tofu Potato Scramble:
Another favourite of mine.
-Medium firm tofu
-your choice of veggies (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions, avocado)
-Cheese (parmesan or vegan options)
-A piece of Kamut wheat toast on the side
To begin, fry the vegetables, add tofu and cook. The add your toppings and make some toast. A perfect post workout meal.
I understand it can be hard to make lunch when we have these days full of school and work. Meal prepping will very much help you in saving time and creating healthy meals. I intend to make extra food with dinner each night to have enough for lunch at school the day after. Here are some ideas!
Vegetarian Turkey Sandwich:
-2 slices of your choice of bread (I enjoy 100% rye or Kamut wheat bread, spelt is great as well)
-Vegetarian Ham/Turkey (This stuff rocks seriously changed the sandwich game for me)
-Spinach or lettuce
-Cucumber or pickle
I'm sure you know how to assemble a sandwich :)
Overnight Protein Oats:
Could be used for breakfast or lunch!
-1/2 cup of oatmeal (watch your portions on this, it is easy to use a lot of oatmeal. Don't worry if it looks small, it will expand.)
-Blueberries, Banana, Strawberries (you chose)
-1 scoop of protein powder
-Soy milk or water to soak
-Chia seeds or any additional toppings
Combine ingredients in a jar or container and let sit overnight.
There are so many options for vegetarian dinner ideas. I love experimenting.
Tofu Pad Thai:
-Firm Tofu chopped into squares
-Cornstarch noodles (I am very sensitive to rice since it has been a main component of my diet for years now. Feel free to substitute rice noodles)
-Peanut Lime Sauce (Peanut butter, soya sauce, lime juice, coconut oil)
-Any extra veggies such as spinach, peppers, onions or leeks.
-Avocado and cilantro to top
Fry tofu, boil noodles, create sauce. Combine all together with added veggies, top with sliced avocado, cilantro, bean sprouts and crumbled peanuts.
Turmeric Noodle Pasta:
-Turmeric Noodles (from costco)
-Vegetarian meatballs or sausages
-Pesto or garlic seasoning, S&P
-Spinach (add extra veggies! broccoli, carrots, peppers, even beans taste great)
Cook pasta and meatballs. Add sauce if needed. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
-chilli powder, S&P
-3 types of beans of your choice
-vegetarian ground beef
Fry vegetables in oil. Add vegetarian ground beef and cook until crispy. Add beans, tomatoes and possibly some water if you need more liquid. Add seasonings. Top with vegan cheese and 0% greek yogurt.
Apples and Peanut Butter
Cliff Builder Protein Bars
Simply Protein bars
Fruit and veggies
Tortilla chips with salsa and 0% greek yogurt (MY FAV)
Bean crisps or chips
Popcorn on the stove made with coconut oil
Green Energy balls:
-your choice of seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower)
Combine all in a bowl and roll into balls!
These recipes are simple and quick which is what I need most in my life. For more detailed and professional recipes and blog posts regarding delicious food, please take some time to check out my cousin The Roasted Chickpea.
I am so extremely lucky to have this passionate lady as my cousin. She loves to create meals for Macy and I to eat at family dinners. Check her out because I love her to death.
There you go! A usual day of eating for myself. I hope this gave some of you some ideas on how to incorporate more vegetarian, healthy, balanced meals into your life. Please feel free to ask me any questions. Sharing and exploring healthy lifestyles is my passion and I encourage all of you to be mindful of your eating habits.