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Don't be SAD - energise yourself

Just how do you boost energy and keep your mental ability firing on all cylinders in the darker months? Rude Health investigates

Winter is upon us once more and sunny days become less frequent as we move towards the shortest day. Many of us start to feel run down and exhausted by our daily routines combined with challenging environmental factors.

“Winter can be very draining on people,” says Helena Murphy of Loop de Loop in Castletownbere in Co Cork. “You don’t get out as much and your immune system is under pressure trying to fight off bugs, the common cold and flu, so it’s important to give yourself a boost in order to keep energy and mood up.”

“Many people face the thought of winter with a sinking heart as daylight hours dwindle,” says Jill Bell of Well and Good in Midleton, Co Cork. “With some customers it’s a clearly defined annual feeling. Canny customers, in tune with their bodies, will look for a tonic or pick-me-up in the autumn as prevention, before they start feeling down or catching ills and chills.”

“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very common, especially in Ireland, as bad weather mixed with short days can sometimes leave us without any brightness for days or weeks,” says Helena Murphy.

“Environmental factors can impact people in various ways,” says Dr Daniel Jones of Revive Active. “These include psychological, often referred to as SAD, as well as physiological, often manifesting as reduced immune protection, reduced circulation and reduced energy. Simply put, in the cold things contract and slow down.”

How can i support my body and mind?

“Immune system support is important during this period with nutrients such as vitamins C, E and D,” says Dr Jones. “Nutrients like coenzyme Q10 are great for natural sustained energy without the crash you get from caffeine or sugar. Coenzyme Q10 is naturally found in almost every cell in your body and is essential for producing cellular energy. When levels decline energy production suffers and fatigue sets in.

“Poor circulation can result in everything from cold hands to decreased stamina due to decreased oxygen and nutrient transport,” says Dr Jones. “L-arginine and L-citrulline assist in the relaxation of blood vessels, increasing blood flow and promoting healthy circulation.”

“The number one supplement to help raise mood is vitamin D,” says Jill Bell. “Vital properties of vitamin D are its ability to raise low mood and improve immunity. Sprayed into the mouth, it is particularly well-absorbed.”

Natural winter help

Helena Murphy’s health store recommendations:

  • For adrenal support I recommend herbs such as rhodiola, ginseng or ashwagandha to help boost energy levels.
  • B vitamins are vital for functions like energy production, sleep and mood.
  • Vitamin D helps with immunity during winter and improves mood.
  • A good multi-vitamin is always handy in either liquid, capsules or tablets.
  • Vitamin C daily will help keep your immunity up.
  • A big favourite of mine is also a good probiotic (live native bacteria) – not only do they help the gut and digestion, they keep the immune system in good shape too.
  • Keep exercise up in winter. Get wrapped up and head out for a walk – this will increase your energy and give you fresh air.
  • Massage is great all year round, but in winter it will heat the muscles and improve circulation.

“Our customers increasingly choose multivitamins in capsule form containing added extras such as wheatgrass or spirulina,” says Jill Bell. “Many find vitamin B12 gives their energy and iron levels a boost. And as energy levels increase, exercise appears on the agenda which in itself improves energy levels.”

Did you know?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects one in 15 people in Ireland between September and April. It can be particularly severe during December, January and February. Symptoms include sleep problems, lethargy, depression, apathy, anxiety and a weakened immune system. Treatments include light therapy, a healthy diet, reducing stress, exercise and asking for help from a qualified medical practitioner.

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