It’s time to face the inevitable…winter is coming. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) affects approximately 2 million people in the UK, and more than 12 million people across Northern Europe. Everyone needs a little helping hand through the colder months, and whilst hot chocolate puds, mulled wine and Sunday roasts most nights of the week might make you feel perkier at the time, the likelihood is that you’ll end up feeling pretty yuck. And potentially enter the New Year ten pounds heavier.
Shorter days and darker mornings mean less daylight, in people with SAD the lack of light is thought to affect the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Unless you’re one of those sporty types, the majority of people also find that they do less exercise in winter, sending endorphin levels plummeting. Walking in the pitch black freezing rain to the gym after work never quite seems to win out against an evening spent snuggled up on the sofa.
Fret not. Winter time really can be a time of merriment (and not only when you’re scoffing chocs and opening your Xmas prezzies). For a more sustainable, longer lasting buzz this winter why not try out some natural highs? Adding natural mood boosters to your daily supplements is a safe, healthy way to feel good this winter, without quitting your job and flying somewhere hot. Most people have heard about St Johns Wort and know about the importance of omega 3’s and B vitamins when it comes to staying happy and healthy. Here are 5 natural highs you may not have heard of.
1. Massage and acupuncture
Both massage therapy and acupuncture are proven to boost endorphin levels, so go on…treat yourself, you know you want to.
2. SAMe (s-adenosyl-methionine)
First discovered in 1953, SAMe is a synthetic form of a naturally occurring molecule, created from the amino acid methionine. SAMe acts as a catalyst in the brain – producing a range of brain chemicals including serotonin, DMT, dopamine and noradrenalin. It is a natural stimulant and mood booster, known to improve energy levels and foster mental clarity.
Sceletium is a succulent herb found in South Africa which when taken medicinally, enhances serotonin activity and balances out dopamine, adrenalin and noradrenalin. It has an antidepressant effect and relieves tension and anxiety. In large doses it can have a euphoric effect.
L-tryptophan is one of the 22 standard amino acids and is a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin, DMT and all tryptamines. Dietary sources of L-tryptophan include most animal and plant proteins – high levels are found in eggs, chocolate, oats and chickpeas. It is an antidepressant and relaxant and can be used to improve sleep patterns and emotional stability.
A naturally occurring amino acid, 5-HTP is an effective antidepressant and precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin and some tryptamines. Taken correctly it can boost mood and induce relaxation. It can also be taken in the evening for the treatment of insomnia.
Always consult a medical professional before taking any of the above supplements and read the medical pamphlet inside the box carefully. Many of the above supplements cannot be taken in conjunction with prescribed anti-depressants and if taken incorrectly can be dangerous.