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  • Writer's pictureAshley Raymond

Finding Your Rhythm

It's Winter which means shorter days, longer nights and the overbearing feeling of being out of whack. Daylight Savings Time not only shifts our perception of time an hour back but it shifts our circadian rhythm as well. Our bodies possess multiple rhythms that work simultaneously and most times, involuntarily. Majority of the time, we don't realize this occurs until we have to readjust.

What is circadian rhythm (CR)? It's the "clock" on which our bodies operate for waking and sleeping. The other aforementioned rhythms include heart rate and respiratory (breathing) rate which are involuntary.

However, our more conscious rhythms include eating, working, or physical activity.

Things that affect our CR are sunlight and temperature. So, this means once Fall and Winter roll around, we have to adjust to colder weather and less sunlight. Once this occurs, we grow tired quicker, hungrier and our dispositions tend to decline. Because it gets darker sooner, this causes a hormone, melatonin, to secrete sooner as well. Melatonin is responsible for helping us sleep and is triggered by darkness. Less sunlight also means less serotonin production, colloquially known as the "happy hormone". For some, (myself included), this promotes the onset of seasonal depression. Even getting up an hour earlier than normal assists in offsetting that loss of sunlight. I've got more tips to help us navigate through this and keep our spirits up. Don't fret!

Stay active! I understand that not all of us have access to gyms or transportation to get to one. There are some great alternatives to bypass this slight bump. YouTube is an amazing resource for just about anything. For folks interested in yoga, I recommend Yoga With Adriene! She caters to all skill levels and has full body lessons or specific videos to target a particular area. For those who'd enjoy more cardio, HIIT or resistance training, FitnessBlender has videos for all of those needs. Plenty of their videos only use your body weight so free weights or machines aren't necessary.

Maintain a healthy diet. Believe it or not, what we consume has an effect on our mental health as well. (Turkey helps with serotonin production, btw). As tough as it can be, reduce your intake of highly processed foods (junk). They provide little to no beneficial energy for the body and that isn't just in regards to exercising. Our bodies use energy for sleeping, breathing, digestion, cardiovascular function and everything else! Eating nutrient rich foods especially those high in vitamins B6, B12, C and D, omega-3 fatty acids promote immune function, increase metabolic and nervous system function. This means we won't get as sick, we'll utilize and absorb food better and our minds will be more stimulated.

Pick up a hobby or craft. Again, YouTube is an excellent resource to learn about any and everything. If you've fallen off from that thing you love to do, now's the best time to get back into it! This keeps our minds active and creates a reward system releasing dopamine, the other "happy hormone". Even if you aren't an expert, keeping the mind sharp aids in staving off that lethargy.

Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable, but don't linger in it. It'd be unrealistic not to acknowledge that even in putting in the work to take care of ourselves, some days just won't be the best. Remember, that's okay! Nothing is all sunshine and rainbows but we shouldn't beat ourselves up when it isn't. It's imperative that we don't suppress how we're feeling nor should we wallow in it. Once we're aware that something isn't quite "right", we owe ourselves the opportunity to push through it and understand the root of the problem. When we do this, we become more equipped to handle similar or the same situations.

Treat Yo'self! Not only to the fun material things we like, but with people and experiences as well. We thrive around and in love; self love and the love we receive from our environment(s). Sometimes, we don't have much control over our surroundings but we always have control over ourselves. Take that time alone or call up friends and plan a day together. Write, read, meditate, do any and everything that fills the spirit. We deserve it!

If this still doesn't work for you, don't be afraid to seek outside assistance. Therapy is a great tool and should be pursued if possible. Check your respective areas to see if there are free/inexpensive services available!


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