When the sun sets before 5:00 p.m. and time outdoors is limited, work and routines pile up, and the cold/flu season starts to make its impact along with the colder weather, most people feel a marked difference in their energy level as compared with summer time. This may manifest in a lower mood, feelings of being overwhelmed with day to day tasks, or simple fatigue at times. Our Toronto Naturopath, Dr. Julia Segal, ND shares some foundations for maintaining good energy levels this winter.
Part 1: Using Nature as Medicine
Keep it Light
While it may be dark when you wake up and dark before you eat dinner, getting 30 minutes of bright sun exposure in the morning at a consistent time each day is vital for maintaining the body’s internal clock. If it’s not sunny outside, you can still increase your sun exposure if it’s cloudy, simply by getting outside. Even a grey day can make you squint when you actually get outdoors. That 30 minute walk will also get your blood flowing, produce some endorphins, move the ol’ body and improve virtually every marker of health.
Embrace the Dark
On the flip side of that morning light, the ideal amount of time before bed without any blue light exposure is three hours. Blue light comes from computers and many of the lights in our home so this can be challenging to achieve. However, simple things like orange lightbulbs, blue light blocking glasses and blue light blocking apps for computers and phones, can help reduce this. Keeping your circadian rhythm on track helps ensure good sleep, while also directly enhancing energy levels.
Alternate Hot and Cold
When we’re indoors a lot in winter, we can ironically overheat and dry ourselves out, all while our circulation decreases. Hydrotherapy, the therapeutic use of water, can get circulation going and give an immediate, significant energy boost. The easiest way to do this is alternating hot/cold showers: have your warm or hot shower for 5-10 minutes, then spend 30 seconds under the coldest water you can handle, then 1 minute of warm, 30 seconds of cold, and so on. Always end with cold, and voila – total invigoration, along with health benefits for the skin and cardiovascular system.
Next week, Toronto naturopathic doctor Dr. Segal will share further strategies to keep energy levels up through what we put into our bodies.