January can be a very difficult month for many people. The holiday season may have been filled with parties, good food, and lots of fun things to do. However, in January there tends to be a post holiday blue due to the cold weather, darkness, and bills that need to be paid. In this article we will focus on the top five tips to make January a great month.
1. Ultraviolet Light Exposure
January is often a very cold and dark month. For many people this means that they get very little UV light exposure. However, there are several reasons that make it extremely important to get this type of light exposure. UV light initiates the conversion of circulating cholesterol in our skin into vitamin D. A great deal of research has been conducted on vitamin D and shows that it helps elevate mood, boosts the immune system, and plays a preventative role in many cancers.
UV light exposure is very important for regulating our circadian rhythms including our sleep-wake cycles. UV light is the brain’s major signal to produce melatonin appropriately. Research shows that as little as 20 minutes per day of UV light exposure, even on cloudy days helps normalize hormone production and improve sleep.
2. Take Your Supplements
No matter how good your diet is, it is highly unlikely you can consume optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids without supplementation. The holiday season is usually stressful on the body and we often don’t take our supplements as diligently when we are on vacation. This makes it even more important to take our supplements in January.
There is nothing like exercise to get the blood moving and heat up the body. If we could put all the benefits of exercise in a pill it would be the best selling drug the world has ever seen. Exercise has been shown to be very important in improving sleep, elevating mood, improving body composition, and preventing cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise whether it’s indoor or outdoor can make the dark winter months so much more enjoyable. Look into joining a gym, badminton club, tennis club, martial arts studio, or playing a team sport.
4. Eat and Dress For the Season
I recommend getting a good cookbook that provides recipes for each season. In the winter it is best to focus on soups, stews, casseroles, and other warming foods. Use heating spices like pepper, ginger, and chilli in your cooking. These dishes are highly nutritious and better digested in the winter months.
Dressing appropriately for the weather makes a huge difference. Nobody likes to be cold. Even those who like cold weather don’t like to be cold themselves. This is why it is very important to dress warmly in the winter. When you are toasty and warm in your winter jacket, toque, gloves, boots, and long underwear the winter seems less cold.
5. Fun Winter Activities
It is very important to find at least or more winter activities that you really enjoy. This makes winter so much more enjoyable. If you spend the winter dreaming of a trip to the Caribbean and the summer you are destined to have some winter blues. However, if you get into winter activities like downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking valley trails, skating on the ponds, or ice fishing winter may become one of your most favourite times of year.
As a naturopathic physician one of my most important jobs is to educate my patients about health so they can become empowered and make healthy choices. Many patients come to the office wanting to make healthier choices but don’t know exactly what those choices should be or how to effectively follow through with them. This is where a naturopathic doctor can really help make your life much easier and more effective. If you want to improve your health but are not sure exactly how to achieve this, I highly recommend you contact an ND and begin putting a plan together that makes sense for you.
If you have any questions for Dr. Barlow or would like to book a consultation please contact him at his office at 250-448-5610.