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Spring tiredness and how to deal with it.



The nature is starting to blossom while we could feel exhausted after winter

This February’s and March’s weather was "acting" kind of weird. Temperatures have been above average, around 10 degrees, some days even higher, which tells us and especially our bodies that it's already spring... But the days, despite the fact that they are getting longer, are still short and thanks to the rainy weather even grey... The sun rarely shines.


After a long winter, our mineral reserves are dwindling and some vitamins have also taken a nose dive. One of them is the "sunshine vitamin" - Vitamin D. It often happens that February and March are the months when we feel tired, our sleep is short and interrupted and sometimes we can even fall into sadness and depression. A new study, led by Dr Brian O'Shea from the University of Nottingham and published in May 2023, shows that February is the month when many people start to struggle with low mood and depression.

Spring fatigue is not a disease, but it can lead to a weakening of our immunity. Immunity is the best weapon we have. It protects us from viruses, bacteria and fungi, etc.


Interestingly, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recognised problem related to the changing seasons that affects the mental health of many people. Is it possible that spring fatigue and SAD have something in common? Is it possible that it is not only our bodies that suffer during this time of year when our bodies are deficient in vitamin D and the sources of vitamins and minerals in our diets are low, but also our psyches or mental health? This condition affects not only our body but also our mind and the way we think. In my opinion, this is more than likely because our body and mind cannot function optimally without each other.

So how to protect against spring fatigue and how to fight seasonal affective disorder? Here are some tips that have worked for me and for my patients, whom I hereby want to thank for sharing their experiences.


Getting out in the fresh air

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise in the fresh air. Exercise improves our overall health and sense of well-being, giving us more pep in our step each day. However, movement also has some direct stress-relieving effects. Physical activity can help increase the production of neurotransmitters called endorphins, which not only make the brain feel good but are also our natural analgesics. Natural pain killers!




Quality sleep helps us to regenerate and heal

Sleep

Poor quality and insufficient sleep have a negative impact on our health. Finding the right balance between work and rest is difficult for many of us. Yet during sleep our body regenerates and heals, and absorbs knowledge and information. One of the biggest enemies of sleep is STRESS. As I mentioned above, movement and exercise helps to relieve unwanted stress. But relaxation, meditation, yoga, tai chi, herbs (valerian and lemon balm are especially helpful), and dietary supplements can also be effective helpers.


As always, a little science may be useful here:

We need to prepare for our nights rest because what we do 1-2 hours before we go to bed affects how well we sleep. Studies show that light from cell phones, tablets, TV negatively affects levels of Melatonin - the sleep hormone. Melatonin regulates night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles... During the day, its levels in our body are low. As soon as it starts to get dark its levels start to increase and its concentration is highest at night. Unfortunately, this hormone also decreases with age, which is why many older people suffer from insomnia. Our body also needs a chemical called Serotonin to produce melatonin. Serotonin, is a neurotransmitter that is produced in the intestines and helps transmit electrical signals between nerve cells in the brain.

These messages are then transmitted throughout the body, telling it how to function. Serotonin is also sometimes called the "happy chemical" because it regulates mood; too little serotonin can be linked to depression and anxiety. Serotonin can also affect learning and memory and helps regulate body temperature, sleep and appetite.

Similar to melatonin, sunlight affects serotonin levels, but in the opposite way: more sunlight results in more serotonin.


In short, melatonin is a hormone and serotonin is a chemical- a neurotransmitter. Both play an important role in our body and affect sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which means that our body uses serotonin to make melatonin.

Both melatonin and serotonin can be taken in the form of dietary supplements. Melatonin is also found in many foods, while serotonin is made in the body from tryptophan (an essential amino acid), which the body cannot make itself and therefore needs to be supplied in food. It is also possible to increase serotonin levels by exercising and being in the sun.


Food sources of Melatonin:

Legumes

Eggs

Leafy greens

Oats

Tuna

Salmon

Nuts


Tryptophan occurs naturally in animal and plant proteins:

Turkey

Chicken

Beans

Dairy

Walnuts

Chia seeds

Banana




Lighter diet could help us to detox and strengthen our body

Nutrition

During the winter months, our body's stores of vitamins and minerals gradually decrease. Over the holidays we overeat and generally don't want to go out in the cold and rain. The lack of sunlight affects the level of vitamin D in the body. We don't have and eat good quality seasonal fruits and vegetables. And on top of that, toxins can build up in our bodies due to stress, illness and pollution. No wonder we are tired and don't feel like doing anything.


During this period, it is necessary to make your diet lighter and give yourself a gentle cleansing. This will help the body to get rid of toxins and gain new energy. Spring cleansing deserves a longer post. So I'll address it separately. Here are just a few tips to help us feel better.

  • Start the day with a cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice, you can sweeten with good quality honey

  • Include juices from fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) in your diet

  • Add spring salads, seeds and nuts

  • Add legumes (red and black lentils, beans) and legume salads

  • Instead of potatoes and white rice, try quinoa, or red and black rice

  • Fermented vegetables like our cabbage or Asian kimchi (recipe to follow) are excellent sources of probiotics, aiding digestion and immunity

  • Add fish (trout, salmon, cod, etc. )

  • Follow a drinking regime (water, herbal teas, broths)

  • A quick, tasty and effective source of minerals are vegetable and herb broths (recipe in the recipe section of the blog)

Avoid or limit:

All processed food and meat

Red meat

White bread

Reduce intake of stimulants such as alcohol, caffeinated and sugary drinks, Confectionery and sweets


Dietary supplements

As I wrote above this period is "poor" in foods that provide us with the necessary vitamins and minerals. Therefore, reaching for good quality food supplements is not a waste. Be sure to treat yourself to vitamin D3, vitamin C (fermented vegetables are rich in vitamin C), Antioxidants such as vitamin A and E. B vitamins in turn support metabolism and energy production.


Connect with friends and loved ones.

Cold weather can discourage us from going out and make us feel like we'd rather stay indoors and isolate ourselves from others, but the best thing we can do is spend time with those who make us feel good. A positive support network can improve everyone's mood and distract us from the negative feelings we may have at this time.


Last but not least, let us not forget that there may be people around us who have already fallen into sadness and melancholy. Who isolate themselves and do not see a positive solution to their condition. These people need our presence and energy. Sometimes a positive word, a caress, a quick visit or just a phone call can save a life. But that is a topic for another blog.


Reference:

Effect of mobile usage on serum melatonin levels among medical students, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26215007/

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