Thoughts on Health… Finding your Equilibrium During Fall

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Ahhh… fall.

How I love you. The cooler mornings. The walks outside. Leaves swirling through the air. Loading up on firewood for the winter. My children laughing as they swing, run, play, spend more time outside than ever before.

Oh, but how you hold a dark secret inside of you.

You don’t fool me for one instant… I know that the cooler mornings and campfire evenings are possible because of your tilt away from the sun… and how the days are now shorter than the nights, until they are so brief we wake up to darkness and eat dinner in darkness.

Fall… I love you, but must you take away my long days of sun? Sun when I wake and sun when I eat dinner and sun until bedtime?

Fortunately, there are lots of great things to do to get prepared for winter.

Of course there are things like pulling out your sweaters and boots and knitting a scarf or two and planting a fall garden and getting the chimney cleaned. But as someone who has battled the winter blahs on my mood my entire life, I wanted to share with you today some *personal* things you can do to prepare your body for a smooth transition through fall as we welcome the shorter days.


1. Increase your fish oil.

I blog a bit about fish oil here. It’s just such an important whole-body nutrient that comes even more into play during the colder months. Winter means everything from a permanent brain fog to dry tight skin.

Fish oil support brain function, digestion, circulation and skin… all things that we need help with in the winter. Although I absolutely recommend fish oil every single day of the year, starting to take it in the fall (or if you currently take it, upping your dose) will help prep your skin for the dry air to come, your brain for the dark days to come, your circulation for the colder winds to come, and your digestion for the heavier, thicker, richer foods to come.


2. 5 HTP.

A precursor to serotonin (the positive, mood enhancing neurotransmitter that most antidepressants are targeting, in the hopes to elevate brain levels) if you get a mild case of winter blues, you don’t necessarily need to take prescription medications for that.

Instead, you can make sure that your body is getting all it needs nutritionally in order to make its own, healthy levels of serotonin. One way to ensure this is to take the nutritional supplement 5 HTP… if you feed your body what it needs (most of us don’t get enough of this precursor as it is) then it can naturally create the serotonin it needs to keep your spirits up as the temperatures dip.


3. Consider Melatonin an hour before bedtime.

Just as serotonin can dip in the winter, adding to the winter blues… your melatonin levels can dip too, wreaking havoc on your nightly rhythm. Even though the darkness makes you feel more tired and ready to turn in earlier, you may find sleep elusive just when you crave it most. This is because melatonin is actually made from serotonin… so folks who are low serotonin are going to be low melatonin.

While 5 HTP may help reset melatonin levels naturally, another approach is to take melatonin directly one hour before bedtime (start with 1 mg and see… you may need to go up to 2 or more mg to find your best level… the level where you fall asleep naturally and wake refreshed, not groggy.) Taking melatonin in the fall when the days grow shorter will help your body re-set to its natural rhythm once winter peaks. Sleeping well at night is a natural and easy way to feel brighter during the days, beating those winter blues.


4. Ashwagandha to combat stress.

For many of us, the transitions of fall can cause fatigue and stress on our body. Ashwagandha is an all natural, ancient remedy highly prized in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is an evergreen tree in India… it’s benefits are boasted far and wide for combating fatigue, reducing stress on our body (many practitioners believe it slows aging and promotes a longer life span!) strengthens the immune system (perfect for the cold and flu season) and promotes restful sleep.


5. Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight.

Yes, getting outside in even the cloudy grey days of fall and winter for a mid-day walk is better than staying inside under the brightest artificial lights. Even if the sun appears not to shine, your pineal gland senses the light in the environment and needs this mid-day pick-me-up to function best this winter.

Make a commitment to get morning or mid-day light (sunshine if possible!) every single day. This one simple and free exercise is probably the single best thing you can do to smooth your fall transition.


6. Along with sunlight, supplement with Vitamin D.

Yes, you will get some Vit D when you go outside each day… but most of us are deficient in Vit D during the summer… nearly ALL of us fall deficient in the winter.

Not only is Vit D a powerful antioxidant, it prevents cancer, stroke, heart disease… you name it… we need it. And lots of it. Your children too… my kids enjoy this Vit D gummy from Nutrition Now.


7. Drink twice as much water as ever before.

Hopefully you’ve kept yourself well hydrated during the summer, when hot temperatures and sweating drive us to remember to drink water more than at any other time of the year. But in the cooler temps, ones in which you are shivering, not sweating… it’s more important than ever before to drink, drink, drink (I’m talking water, peeps… water. I know what you are thinking…)

Dry heated air, dry cold outside air, wind chapping our lips, and no internal drive to remind us to drink leads to mid-winter dehydration, brain fog, and a sure-fire road to BLAH.

You can get so dehydrated that you actually feel semi-nauseous all the time. Drink water and then drink some more… and start right now.


8. Detox.

Fall is the absolutely perfect time to encourage a gentle cleansing from your body, allowing the unnecessary to fall away and reveal a fresh start as we change seasons.

My Gentle Detox eCourse starts October 17th and runs for five days, through October 21st. It is the perfect way to give your body a simple yet thorough new energy as we welcome in the season. This will be the last time I run this course in 2011, so sign up right now to receive your Detox Goodie Bag in time for the course to begin next Monday.

I’ll be doing the detox right along with you!

xoxo, Laura