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Tips for Improving Your Mood During the Winter Months

healthy-winter-mood

The long, dark winter months can take a toll on our emotional well-being. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that most commonly begins during the fall months and lasts throughout the winter.

Psychology Today estimates that 10 million Americans are affected by SAD every year. Even for those who may not have been formally diagnosed, it is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the population has a form of mild SAD.

While symptoms of SAD (and their severity) can vary, symptoms commonly associated with SAD – sometimes also called “the winter blues” – include:

  • Decreased energy
  • Feeling depressed
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sleeping too much or feeling constantly exhausted
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight (winter SAD frequently results in craving starchy, high-carb foods, and weight gain)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations

Whether or not you think you have SAD, The Mayo Clinic reminds everyone that it’s important to see a doctor “if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.”

Thankfully, there are simple things you can do to help improve your mood during the winter months. While none of these alone should be thought of as a cure, they may be ideal supportive aids to therapies and treatments recommended by a healthcare professional.

Light Therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, requires sitting or working near a light therapy box, a kind of lamp that emits a bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Make sure to purchase a light or lightbox specifically made for this purpose – there is a wide variety, and your doctor may be able to help recommend one.

A good light therapy lamp should generally have 10,000 LUX, although your doctor may recommend something different. The lightbox should be about 16-24 inches from your face during daily sessions (generally about 20-30 minutes) to get the most out of light therapy. Light therapy is often most effective when done first thing in the morning.

Get Outside

Even if you’re using a light therapy lamp, try to get outside for more natural light. Ten to 15 minutes is enough each day. Schedule a regular short walk with a group of friends or a neighbor. Shovel snow if possible. Go for a wintery walk in the woods. Getting exercise, fresh air, exposure to sunlight, and time with friends are important ways to support a healthy, balanced mood.

Get Light Exercise

It can be harder to exercise during the winter. But exercising releases endorphins, which helps boost energy and mood. If it’s too cold to get your heart rate up outside regularly, there are plenty of indoor options. Dance, do push-ups and jumping jacks, or try streaming a yoga or Pilates class.

Eat a Balanced Diet

The starchy carbohydrates we crave (and sometimes overindulge on) during the winter can wreak havoc on our moods, and make that sluggish, exhausted feeling worse. It’s essential to do your best to eat a balanced diet full of a variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats during the winter.

Along with the above tips, try these natural supplements from Nutricology, Quicksilver Scientific, and Priority One.

Seratonin – Nutricology

Seratonin from Nutricology is a patented formula to support serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate a healthy mood and sound sleep. Balancing serotonin in the body is thought to support the body’s ability to better deal with challenges such as stress. This formula also contains vitamin C, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and more.

Nanoemulsified Noto Bravi – Quicksilver Scientific

Nanoemulsified Noto Bravi from Quicksilver Scientific is a supplement formula that includes four adaptogenic botanicals that have been shown to support cognition and blood flow to the brain, two types of ginseng for greater energy and oxygen circulation, as well as a Chinese herb, horny goat weed, that increases neuro-vascularity. Altogether, this supplement formula may support learning, acuity, attention, and a healthy mood.

5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan 100 Mg – Priority One

5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan 100 Mg from Priority One is a supplement that promotes serotonin levels in the brain to support emotional well-being, healthy eating behavior, and healthy sleep.

What are your best tips for improving your mood during the winter months?

Gift Ideas for Parents (Who Have Everything)

gift ideas for parents

You’ll love these gift ideas for parents who have everything!

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and the rush to get presents for everyone is on. But, what about those hard to shop for family members, like your parents? We’ve got you covered! Here are some gift ideas for parents who have everything.

Think Outside the Box

We’ve got some great gift ideas for my parents who have everything! The trick here is to think outside the box. Rather than going for clothing and jewelry, think about health, wellness, pampering and experiences. Some ideas include:

  • Health and Beauty Items
  • Trips and Staycations
  • Massage Gift Certificate
  • Round of Golf
  • Magazine Subscription

Under the Tree

For under the tree gift ideas for my parents who have everything, it helps to think of items that they would use, but not necessarily buy for themselves. Here are some of our favorite ideas that you can put under the tree.

  • Aromatherapy Room Diffuser from Aura CaciaHelp them relax and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy with this easy to use room diffuser. Just add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the diffuser pad and plug it into any electrical outlet. The whole room will soon be filled with mind and body beneficial aromatherapy. Make the gift even better by adding a few varieties of essential oils to your gift!
  • HylaSoak Powdered Bath Soak by HyalogicThis is the most perfect gift idea for my parents who have everything. Help them relax, moisturize, and soothe achy joints and muscles with this lovely bath soak, packed with aromatherapy. You can use it as a foot bath, regular bath, or even in a hot tub!
  • Badger Foot Balm by Badger Help pamper your parents with this soothing foot balm, that will heal sore, dry and cracked feet. Simply rub onto clean feet, throw on a pair of socks and let the balm work its magic overnight. You’ll be amazed by the results! To add a little extra to your present, throw in some Sore Muscle Rub too!
  • SpaVapor+ Ultrasonic Oil Diffuser by GreenairFor the ultimate aromatherapy experience, gift mom and dad with this quiet, high-output diffuser. This one-of-a-kind diffuser uses ultrasonic action that creates negative ions to help purify the air. Your parents will love it!

Finding the perfect gift ideas for parents who have everything isn’t hard, you just have to get creative. Try these ideas this year, and you’ll definitely be on the good list!

Try Adding Egg to Oatmeal With These Recipes

oatmeal with egg

Oatmeal can be boring, but it holds a place in our cabinets and culinary history for a reason. It is an affordable food with nourishing fiber, nutrients, and an all-around wholesome food for breakfast. 

For better or worse, oatmeal can be dressed up in countless ways. Many oatmeal recipes call for toppings and mixes to make it a bit more palatable, but we’re going to suggest something a lot different than fruit, chocolate, or anything else. We’re talking about adding egg to oatmeal. 

The concept is simple. Heat your water or milk, add your oats, and immediately add either a whisked whole egg or whisked egg whites. 

We recommend adding the whisked egg little by little, whisking all the while, as this will allow the egg to mix with and even be absorbed by the cooking oats. If you add it all at once, you will get a combination of oatmeal and scrambled eggs. We want something more homogenous and delightful. 

By adding gradually and cooking slow, you’ll develop a new texture in your eggs. It won’t have the mushy, gummy texture that so many people accept as good oatmeal. Instead, the mixture will be fluffier and softer, without any of the stickiness you are accustomed to. When all of the liquid is absorbed and your oats are cooked, your new oatmeal base is ready to go. From here, you have several choices for how to proceed. 

Sweet Eggy Oatmeal

The combination of egg and oatmeal is a fantastic amalgamation of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. You can take this meal further, too, by adding some sweet ingredients.  

Try toppings you enjoy, such as seasonal berries, figs, bananas, and fruit of many other kinds. Add your favorite crunchy cereal for some textural interest, and finally top with a sensible portion of organic maple syrup, honey, or your choice of jellies and jams, or other sweetener. 

A simple Stevia product, like Stevia Liquid Extract from Protocol For Life Balance, can also add all of the sweetness you need, without any of the additional calories. Mix in some peanut butter or Nutella if it blends well with your other ingredients, and you’ve got some extra protein and carbohydrates to help you start your day off right. 

You can add additional protein easily with protein supplements. MediClear from Thorne Research provides 20 grams of protein in each servicing, along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and so much more. Just a single scoop into your oatmeal is all you need to make your oatmeal more filling, nutritious, and delicious.

Savory Eggy Oatmeal

Of course, eggy oatmeal will also mix with savory ingredients just as well. Here, you can pick anything that strikes your fancy, and there is no limit to good options being available. For protein, bacon and sausage are obvious picks, but there are endless other options, especially for vegans. 

Mushrooms, cooked vegetables of your choice, pickled veggies, nuts, fresh or sundried tomatoes, avocados, plantains, shallots, scallions, and the list goes on. 

The point is, if you’re getting bored with your morning bowl of oatmeal, there are endless ways to boost its flavor profile and nutritional value. Whether you choose sweet or savory, or even some delectable combination, you’ll be building on an incredible oatmeal foundation, one that’s made all the better by adding egg while cooking. 

Adding egg to oatmeal is more than a simple fad – it’s a way to add a superior texture and nutritional identity to the most familiar breakfast staple we can think of. It’s cheap, easy, and delicious. Why don’t you try it for breakfast this week, especially if you are someone who usually skips this meal.