Fall is just around the corner, and in classic Vancouver fashion, it starts with rain! Days are getting shorter, and mornings are getting darker. During this time, our hormones (serotonin and melatonin) adjust to changes in daylight, and this can commonly cause low mood and low energy levels.
Taking proactive steps to regulate hormones and your circadian rhythm can minimize your risk of feeling the blues. Here are my top 5 tips for boosting mood and energy this fall:
1. Light Therapy:
Light therapy or phototherapy is an essential item for Vancouver’s dark, rainy mornings. Studies show that light therapy can boost mood in as little as 20 minutes. Look for natural spectrum lightbox that emits 10,000 lux, and place 16-24 inches from your face, first thing in the morning for 20 minutes. Lightboxes can be used throughout the day, however discontinue by 2 pm to mimic our natural circadian rhythm.
2. Infrared sauna
Infrared sauna has been shown to have numerous benefits including increasing detoxification, reducing risk of heart disease, improving muscle recovery, regulating blood sugar and more. Additionally, infrared saunas boost mood, lower stress levels, and increase mental focus. Infrared saunas may also increase BDNF levels, a protein found in the brain, associated with elevating mood. Levels of BDNF have been shown to decrease during the fall and winter months.
3. Regular exercise
Regular exercise is a great way to boost mood, energy and BDNF levels (among many other things!). Aim to exercise in the morning or during the day, and limit intense exercise in the evening as this can impair melatonin levels. Additionally, exercising outdoors can increase your exposure to natural light. This can boost mood, energy and regulate your circadian rhythm. My favourite way to do this is going walks during my lunch break (good footwear and an umbrella are a must!)
4. Vitamin D
With less sunlight in the fall/winter, you may need to adjust your Vitamin D intake. It’s well established that Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributing factor in Seasonal Affective Disorder. Consider testing your levels and adjusting your dosage of supplementation appropriately.
Laughter increases dopamine (pleasure hormone), serotonin (happy hormone), and endorphins. Set aside regular time throughout your day and week to do things that bring you joy and laughter.
If you find these steps are not quite enough and you need some added support, you might be right! Digestive health, hormonal balance, genetics, inflammation, and many other areas may also contribute to low mood and low energy. Give us a call at Acubalance to schedule a free 15-minute phone consult to learn more.
Dr. Ashley Damm, ND
Naturopathic Doctor – Vancouver, BC