Disclaimer: I'm a nerd not a doctor. Discuss anything you read here with a healthcare professional you trust.
We’re hitting that time of year when the sun goes on vacation at the higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere. Many of us take exception to the shorter days and lack of sunlight. I know I do. Around this time of year, I start feeling like I’m wading through thin molasses. By February the molasses is good and thick.
Sleep helps. Seven to eight hours every night is gold. No, don’t believe that “I’m a night person I don’t need that much sleep” mess. Yes, you do need that much sleep. You will be amazed at what happens to your body and mind once you start getting adequate sleep. Psst, you burn calories in your sleep.
Beware the blanket burrito. While getting a solid minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every night is good for you watch out for oversleeping. When I crack an eyelid open and it’s pitch black out, but the clock says it’s time to be awake, I want to roll back into my blanket burrito. It’s a trap! Don’t do it! There’s a whole day’s worth of adventure waiting for you, don’t succumb to the lure of the blanket burrito. I have an alarm clock that simulates the sun rising to help wake me up. Others use apps that require solving puzzles or math problems before the alarm will stop sounding.
Go. Out. Side. Stay out there for at least 30 minutes. Your brain will thank you. There are parts of our visual cortex that help regulate our internal functions based on the amount of sunlight that hits our retinas. If you live on the snowy tundra like I do, a full spectrum light may be your best friend as the days get shorter and darker. Be careful not to over expose yourself. I got a little carried away with the first light box I owned.
Check your diet. Protein and vitamin D can be your other best friends. If you can’t get enough sun exposure to make your own vitamin D, eat it. Especially if you or any of your ancestors came from anywhere near the equator. Carb heavy comfort food is not your friend. Protein, well there’s all sorts of research supporting why a protein rich diet is good for most of us. I’m not talking about fad cure all diets. But maybe lay off the pasta and sweet potato pie. I fancy steak and mushrooms for a nice treat.
Don’t pitch a tent. Be honest now, it feels good to be down in the dumps sometimes. Blanket burritos are so warm and inviting. Comfort food gives us the warm fuzzies. Your taste buds operate with some of the same neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Complaining is something of a national pastime. If you’re not careful it becomes a copout. Rather than take steps to address what’s going on in your life you give away you power to change in yourself. Don’t pitch a tent and wallow. If you don’t quiet succeed today. Tomorrow is a new day to try again.
Samantha Pierce is the author of Voice of The Unheard, a science fiction novel. Available in print at Amazon.com.
I take a general what happens if I do this approach to life. It keeps things interesting.