Many people suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, this time of year. Your body wants to sleep more and do less when there is less natural light. Many people also get depressed from the lack of light. You release more melatonin, which is a hormone that puts you to sleep. After summer we lose approximately one minute of light every day until December 21. On that day, we will start to gain approximately one minute of light each day until the summer solstice, Friday June 21. Until then, it is possible to make yourself feel better from the winter blues. Here’s how:
1. Get a happy light! Otherwise known as a full-spectrum light bulb, these lights act as a sunshine stimulator. There are many different full spectrum lights- some that can easily replace a light bulb in your home and others are full units that can be installed into your home to simulate actual lighting. Verilux makes some great full-spectrum lights but you can literally google “Happy light” and hundreds of options from prices of $20.00 to $5,000.00 will present themselves. More expensive isn’t necessarily better.
2. Exercise three times a week, for twenty minutes at a time. This stimulates endorphin production and release. Endorphins actually have an inverse relationship with melatonin, waking you up. The more endorphins you have, the easier it will be for you to combat SAD.
3. Eat foods that are in season. Each food is designed to help give you the proper balance of nutrients and minerals for adjusting to the weather patterns. Fall squashes and pumpkins actually have components that help your body adapt to the winter. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorites. In fact, here is my favorite recipe.
- 2 large butternut squash (about 4 1/2 lbs.) or 4 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 medium onions
- 3 cloves garlic (optional)
- 3 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Halve, seed, peel, and cube the butternut squash. Set aside.
- Halve, peel, and chop the onion. Mince the garlic, if you like.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter or oil and the chopped onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer small batches to a blender. Hold a kitchen towel over the top (to prevent burns) and whirl until completely and utterly smooth, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
- Return the soup to the pot and add more salt to taste.