Many of us absolutely love the change of seasons. A break from the hot, humid summer months with our windows shut and the AC blaring. We welcome the crisp fall air, cozy sweatshirts, opening our windows, and lighting a fire on the patio.
All too often, the fall season is a brief transition, with much of our time focused on the upcoming holidays, and before you know it we’re smack dab in the dead of winter.
We are all affected by the changes in temperature and sun. Some effects are good and some are bad. How are you affected by the winter months? If you know you are affected by the seasonal changes, now is the time to plan and prepare. Don’t wait until the symptoms are there, planning ahead creates far better results! If the winters are long, gray, and taxing your emotional health, you might want to consider St. John's Wort, Vitamin D, or even Sun therapy.
St John's wort is a pretty little shrub with cheery yellow flowers that have medicinal properties and is especially beneficial to those affected by the sun (or lack thereof). It has become pretty common knowledge that St John's wort is a good, safe alternative to antidepressants, but you should know that the form you take it in will have an effect on its absorption capacity. St John's is most readily available in pill form. A lot of the active ingredient is wasted as our body breaks the tablet down and deciphers what can be utilized. Taking liquid St John's wort that is meant to be taken sublingually (under the tongue) goes more directly into the bloodstream, minimizing waste and increasing absorption capacity. For more information on uses and precautions check out this site:
When the colder weather keeps us inside more, our body makes less Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin! Our body produces vitamin D as a result of sunshine on our skin. James M. Greenblatt M.D. in Psychology Today states, “Regardless of cause, deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.” This sunshine vitamin activates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that affect brain function and sleep cycles, which also affect our emotional health. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the drop in Vitamin D leaves many feeling down. (Read more about SAD; Seasonal Affective Disorderhere.)
If we can be certain to spend time outdoors, that can help alleviate the drop in our natural Vitamin D production, but the colder months makes that hard. Another good way to increase your light exposure as the season changes is by using a light box. There are light boxes for emotional health and different boxes for skin issues. The difference is whether they emit UV. For emotional health, look for a light box that does not emit UV. There are four components to helping you get the most out of a light box: timing, consistency, duration, and intensity. To work with your body’s natural rhythm, it’s best to use the light therapy as part of your morning routine. Consistency is key, so have it on for 20-30 minutes during a routine you do often. For emotional wellbeing it is recommended to use 10,000-lux light box at a distance of about 16 to 24 inches from your face. For more information on specifics regarding light therapy read this.
It is always best to work with a professional when making changes to your regime. It is good to understand route, form, type, and frequency of the various options. Having a professional review your current regime to ensure there are no contraindications is very beneficial.
A natural regime for those affected by the lack in sun may look like this:
St John’s Wort: Taking liquid St John's sublingually daily initially for 3 continuous months. Then, as part of a proactive plan begin taking St John's wort again in fall and continue until spring. Ending in the spring will be right in time for the natural sunshine and allows your body the chance to take over.
Vitamin D3: Your lab work would determine the amount and how often you need Vitamin D. Some only need it in the winter months, others take it year-round because their work has them in an office all day rather than outside, but they can take a lower amount in the summer.
Light therapy: Begin the light therapy routine in the very early fall as the days become shorter and cloudier.
Working at this consistently as part of a proactive plan by starting a regime prior to symptoms will provide you with the maximum reward for your efforts. Discontinuing, or modifying the regime, in the spring allows your body to take over and “rewrite” the way your body functions.
Contact your local Holistic Health Practitioner and create a plan together to keep you on a path of success. They can help you with a plan to succeed, seeing the sun in the midst of winter.
If you have further questions or thoughts, feel free to contact me.
Rachael KraMer is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Registered Nurse, Speaker, Writer, and Owner of Shekinah Wellness. She enjoys helping people get to the core of their health concerns. Rachael KraMer helps individuals discover and implement preventative practices in their daily life and creates a protocol using a wide range of therapies tailored to their need. She may be reached through shekinahwellness.com or at email@example.com or 763-923-8112.