Although they were barely two months ago, the summer holidays already feel like a distant dream! The days are getting shorter and colder, and although it’s now the season of Pumpkin Spice tea, Halloween and golden leaves, autumn can take its toll on our mood and mental health. Fortunately, we can look to nature to make your days brighter.
In this blog, we will be exploring some of the following questions…
- How can you bring more light into your days in autumn and winter?
- How can herbs help uplift your mood over winter?
- Are there natural ways to ease stress and anxiety?
Bring More Light Into Your Days
If you feel a difference in your mood and energy levels in the autumn and winter, it may be linked to lower access to sunlight, which after some time can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms of SAD include low energy, headaches, moodiness, irritability, and weight gain or loss.
It’s thought that a lack of sunlight exposure hinders a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. In turn, this can impact:
- The production of melatonin. This is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. People with SAD may produce this hormone at higher than normal levels.
- The production of serotonin. This hormone directly affects your mood, appetite and sleep. It’s thought that a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which in turn is linked to feelings of depression.
- Your body's internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm. Your body uses sunlight to time various important functions. Lower than normal access to sunlight can disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD.
So what can you do? Sensitivity to light fluctuations does vary – but it’s a good idea to maximise your exposure to natural light as much as possible! Bring as much natural light into your home and life, and try to exercise outdoors when you can.
You can also use light therapy – as little as 30 minutes a day of exposure to a light box with 10,000 lux of high-intensity light can go a long way in uplifting your mood. You can also speak to a healthcare practitioner about vitamin D supplementation through the winter months. Sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D, and this vitamin is key to maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the blood, which in turn nourishes the entire nervous system, muscles and bones. Vitamin D also plays an essential role as a mood regulator.
Which Herbs can Help You Combat the Winter Blues?
There are many herbs that can be beneficial to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety over the winter months. Many herbs have a direct effect on the nervous system, and combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be of great help to ease SAD symptoms. There is also a growing body of research demonstrating links between the health of the nervous system to that of our gut and its microbiota. Focusing your herbal support on balancing the gut flora may be a great strategy for treating disorders of the nervous system. Interestingly, many herbs that are considered “nervines” (that help balance the nervous system) are often also prescribed for digestive concerns, such as chamomile or lemon balm.
Ashwagandha Increases Your Resilience Through Challenging Transitions
Ashwagandha is a fantastic example of an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens are herbs that can improve our physical and emotional resilience to any forms of stress, and make difficult transitions – like changing seasons! – smoother and easier.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen and a rejuvenating tonic for the nervous system. It’s both energising and calming. It is often prescribed to soothe stress, anxiety and depression. It promotes general wellbeing and enhances stamina and physical endurance, which makes it popular for athletes as well.
It’s great for those who have been working overtime and feel chronically burned out or tired. It supports the nervous system and the adrenal glands. It can reduce mood swings, promote restful sleep, increase muscle growth, support hormonal balance, decrease anxious food cravings and boost immune defences.
Ashwagandha can be taken in the evening before bedtime to help with sleep but it is not sedative, and it can also be helpfully taken throughout the day to restore adrenal health.
Zen Maitri’s Ashwagandha Supplements provide a really handy way to take in all of the benefits from this wonderful herb, in concentrated capsules with 100% ashwagandha root powder, made by drying the root of the plant and then reducing it into a powder. These capsules are plant-based and suitable for vegans.
Ashwagandha is also a key ingredient of our Balance Supplements and Balance Tincture – both of which harness the power of ashwagandha and other herbs to increase your vitality and resilience in the face of stress.
Lemon Balm Eases Tension, Supports Digestion and Uplifts Your Mood
Also known as melissa, lemon balm is a deliciously fragrant, wonderfully relaxing yet gently stimulating herb. It calms a tense and anxious mind and enhances memory retention, concentration and mental clarity. It uplifts the mood and is a mild sedative and pain reliever, helping combat stress-induced insomnia. Lemon balm also soothes stress-related digestive problems such as spasms and gas. It has shown to be effective against viral infections, including the cold sore virus.
Lemon balm also has the added benefit of tasting delicious as part of a herbal tea. It is a key ingredient in our calming Balance Tea and Balance Tincture, which support the nervous system – but you will also find it in some of our other tasty herbal blends, such as our Rose and Lemon Balm Tea, our Lemongrass and Ginger Tea and our Green Tea and Lemongrass Tea.
Rhodiola helps Restore and Rebuild Energy Levels
Similarly to ashwagandha, Rhodiola root is an adaptogen – a herb which can enhance resilience to physical and emotional stress. Rhodiola has been extensively studied and proven to help the body adapt to stress, while also relieving low mood and anxiety. It also enhances cognitive ability and increases mental function, supporting memory retention and alertness.
Rhodiola is rich in antioxidants, eases fatigue, and helps increase physical endurance. It helps restore energy levels and can be combined with other adaptogenic and tonic herbs to help replenish the nervous system. Rhodiola is an ingredient of our Balance Tincture and Balance Supplements.
Rhodiola also enhances immunity by increasing the number of natural killer cells (which seek and destroy infected or mutated cells) and by improving T-cell immunity (including supporting the production of antibodies, to fight off invaders) – a key reason why we’ve also included it into our Recovery Tincture, formulated to help you get better when you are feeling under the weather.
It also improves blood oxygen levels and increases blood supply to the brain and muscles – naturally enhancing physical and mental energy and performance. It is also in our All-natural pre- and post-workout mix: a vegan powder made with a powerful blend of herbs to promote muscle recovery pre-and post-workout. It can certainly help keep you active through the shorter days!
Low Mood, Lack of Energy, Stress? We’ve Got Something for Everyone…
We hope this blog has included a few tips you can take on to help you get through the winter months. Check out our Energy and Balance collections for more natural products to keep you happy and healthy.