There’s nothing worse than feeling the onslaught of holiday cheer right around the corner – and dreading it! It can all get a bit much, if you’re not feeling in the right headspace.
So if you’re feeling a bit Grinch-like at the moment – have no fear, here are eight all-natural tips to fight S.A.D. and get you back in the holiday swing.
It may sound crazy, but there’s good science behind it – your vagus nerve passes by your vocal cords and your inner ear, and the vibration of humming is a free and easy way to influence your nervous system. In 2010, researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve, and vice versa. Simply pick your favourite tune and you’re ready to go. Maybe try “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones? Notice and enjoy the sensations in your chest, throat, and head.
Stimulate your “Diving Reflex”
Considered a first rate vagus nerve stimulation technique, splashing cold water on your face from your lips to your scalp line stimulates the “diving reflex”. You can also achieve the nervous system cooling effects by placing ice cubes in a ziplock and holding the ice against your face and a brief hold of your breath. The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body. Hard-core wild swimming folks swear by jumping straight into cold water, if you can handle it! An additional technique that stimulates the diving reflex is to submerge your tongue in liquid. Drink and hold lukewarm water in your mouth sensing the water with your tongue.
Reach out for relationship. Healthy connections to others, whether this occurs in person, over the phone, or even via texts or social media in our modern world, can boost the serotonin inside your system and initiate regulation of our body and mind. Give or receive a therapeutic hug! The instructions are to simply “stand on your own two feet, place your arms around your partner, focus on yourself, and to quiet yourself down, way down.”
Get a massage
Many of us think of a massage as a huge luxury, but it’s time we start thinking of it as part of our winter self-care routines. Research has shown that bodywork not only lowers cortisol – your body’s main stress hormone – it boosts dopamine and serotonin, which means a happier you.
Holy basil tea
It also has a positive influence on mood and is safe to use with pharmaceutical antidepressants. In a 2008 study, a dose of 1 gram of holy basil for two months lowered symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Don’t forget your vitamin D!
Vitamin D’s nickname is the “sunshine vitamin” because we get it when direct sunlight comes into contact with our skin. So it’s no surprise that in the UK, many of us are deficient in Vitamin D during the winter. Vitamin D can have a powerful impact on mood and may even aid in the prevention of conditions like depression. If you suspect that you may have a vitamin D deficiency, it’s best to talk to your doctor and get your blood levels tested to determine if supplementation is right for you.
Get a lightbox
Light therapy boxes can offer an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder.In the winter it’s not uncommon to leave for work in the dark and come home long after the sun has set. Instead of letting your only light exposure be the fluorescent lighting in your office, try getting a lightbox. Go for a type that’s specifically designed for the purpose of combating SAD, and choose one that provides an exposure to 10,000 lux of light and emits as little UV light as possible.
Work lavender into your daily routine
Lavender essential oil is traditionally used and approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as herbal medicine to relieve stress and anxiety. Research reveals positive results in models of anxiety and depression. Chuckling Goat’s Calm Down Cleanser and Lotion are two all-natural ways to get the beautiful scent of lavender onto your skin.