Trinny & Shabir Live: Nurturing Our Mental Health Through Winter
Watch the latest live, Nurturing Our Mental Health Through Winter, here
Shop all the products discussed in Trinny & Shabir's latest Live.
Nurturing Our Mental Health through winter
We know that the shorter days and dark nights can affect the mood of many people who simply feel a bit low or down. This is often referred to as ‘winter blues’ and some of the symptoms include:
- Low mood
- Stress symptoms, easily agitated, lack of motivation
- decrease in energy levels
- Inability to focus or concentrate.
These factors can have a major impact on our mental health and wellbeing, hence I thought that we could look at tips and supplements that may enhance our mental health, our mood and improve our general outlook.
But why should shorter days make us feel blue?
There are many theories about this subject which include:
Some people simply produce more melatonin in the winter months than others which makes them feel lethargic with low mood.
The most widely accepted theory is that for some people, the timing of their circadian rhythm falls out of sync with the time of the day so for example when someone is supposed to wake up, because their circadian rhythm is not in sync, their biological clock is telling them to carry on sleeping. This could then create feelings of tiredness which could have a knock-on effect, resulting in a negative state of mind.
Tips to enhance mental health and wellbeing
- Don’t skip breakfast – don’t rush to work or anywhere else without eating something. A slice of toast and a cup of coffee does not cut it with me. Try something a bit nutritious such as whole grain granola or a porridge with a sprinkling of fruits etc. A good breakfast should give you sufficient energy to get you moving and hopefully motivated.
- Eat foods which contain higher levels of vitamin D3. Small amounts of vitamin D3 are found in fortified foods such as cereals and milk as well as oily fish such as tuna and salmon, cheese and egg yolks. Of course oily fish are really a great source because they also contain the mood elevating essential fatty acid called EPA and they also contain tryptophan which is an amino acid that is required for the production of serotonin. You can, if you wish, supplement with Bare Biology’s Life & Soul Fish Oil capsules.
- Eat fermented and probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, live yoghurt and kefir will all be of value in combating low mood. The bacteria in our gut can have a major influence on our mood. The bacteria in our gut communicate directly with our brain via the nervous system (gut-brain axis) and vice versa because stress affects our stomach and what happens in our stomach affects our brain, which is why you should eat foods that enhance the flourishing of beneficial bacteria.
- Alternatively, there is a specific supplement called Florassist Mood Improve which contains two strains that have been shown to reduce stress markers in the gut within 30 days and even greater by the 60th day. This supplement also contains the spice Saffron which has been shown to enhance various mood elevating chemicals in the brain.
- Most people can take Florassist Mood Improve including those om medications for low mood – I find that many people taking conventional medications for low mood still don’t feel 100% and this is often of value in enhancing their mood.
- Take some exercise – exercise enhances endorphins which are feel good chemicals leaving you calmer and happier. Try to capitalise on any sunlight if at all possible which enhances vitamin D3 production and this in turn helps low mood.
- Take a warm bath - several studies indicate that taking a long soak in the bath could help with mild to moderate depression. Interestingly, the benefit experienced was similar to taking exercise so clearly endorphins are released when you take a long soak.
- I tend to recommend Magnesium Relax Bath Flakes because the magnesium chloride is absorbed transdermally and helps relax both the body and the mind.
- Smile – when you smile, you get a cascade of feel good chemicals released which your body and mind
- If the stress is overwhelming, consider a very specific supplement for stress which is Magnolia Rhodiola Complex. Magnolia extracts work to physically relax muscles and nerves as well as reduce levels of all stress hormones in the body including cortisol. Rhodiola works to enhance serotonin levels in the brain which is your nerve calming and mood elevating neurochemical in the brain. Theanine, from green tea, is an amino acid that works to enhance alpha waves which relax the mind. Please do not take Magnolia Rhodiola Complex if you are on prescribed anti-depressants.
So we have looked at tips and supplements to try and combat stress itself but of course stress results in a myriad of other symptoms which include:
- Sleep Disturbances
- Low Energy
- Inability to focus and concentrate
So let’s look at each of these individual concerns and try and get some simple tips and solutions
The best thing you can do for your body during stress is to get a good night’s sleep. It is easy for me to make this statement but a lot of people cannot sleep for more than a few hours and it gets worse at times of stress.
A lack of sleep can affect your decision making skills and it can affect almost every process in the body and this can cause cravings for food which in turn may result in weight gain, amongst a myriad of other concerns.
Getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel more relaxed during the day and more able to handle stress.
It is of course a vicious cycle because a lack of sleep causes stress and stress causes a lack of sleep.
Tips to enhance your sleep
Try to get into a routine of going to bed by say 10pm and trying to re-establish your circadian rhythm.
Ensure that you have the right bedding that allows your skin to breath so you do not get too hot in bed.
Stress blocks the production of sleep hormone and will only make matters worse, so perhaps use relaxation techniques or other aids mentioned above.
Drink some relaxing tea such as Chamomile, we recommend Chamomile Tea by Dr Stuart's.
Try Sleep Patches which contain a blend of herbs such as red peony to calm the mind, relax nerve activity and induce sleep. They are ideal for people who do not wish to take tablets or worried about interactions with their medications.
You could also consider wearing an eye mask. Good quality eye masks shut out the light completely. Spacemasks warm up and they work to help alleviate eye strain and at the same time will help calm you and relax your mind. The warmth lasts for approximately 15 minutes.
Consider the use of a natural supplement such as Cherry Night to relax the body, enhance sleep hormone production and help aid restful sleep.
Low Physical Energy
Low energy levels are closely linked to stress because whilst the body is busy producing stress hormones, it does not produce sufficient energising hormones resulting in low energy, fatigue and tiredness.
Of course a lack of sleep will also contribute to low energy levels and we have already mentioned tips and supplements that could be of benefit.
Finally, no matter how you feel, you have to try and ensure that you have a balanced and nutrient rich diet.
For low physical energy (and to a degree mental energy too) you might consider using a supplement called Daily Energy. This supplement contains a blend of adaptogens and natural energy boosters that work on the adrenals to help them produce their energising hormones and enzymes.
This formulation contains Maca, Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha and Suma (Brazilian Ginseng).
This supplement provides you with:
- Instant energy
- Sustained energy
- Is nutrient rich
Inability to concentrate & focus
Aside from the multiple symptoms that stress manifests, one of the key problems that people find is the inability to concentrate or focus with signs of mental fog. This is because stress results in excess cortisol and this stress hormone is inflammatory in nature leading to the shifting the way nerve impulses move (normally orchestrated way but at times of stress these impulses can be haphazard).
Limitless Plus is a supplement that contains two very simple patented extracts derived from the non- GMO tomato plant and fruit as well as from non-GMO Spearmint. This is a nootropic supplement which works enhance focus and mental energy because:
- The tomato fruit is nutrient rich
- The antioxidants within the tomatoes and spearmint helps to quench inflammation which is one of the causes of mental fog.
Long terms benefits involve the release of neurotransmitters involved in learning and memory.