Winter, some people love it. And then there are those who are negatively affected by the colder weather and shorter daylight hours, suffering with low mood, stress and lack of motivation. Worries, challenges, and anxieties seem to be overwhelming, chronic stress may result.

Signs of stress include aches and pains, insomnia, indigestion, diarrhoea, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low self-esteem and feeling out of control, moody and tearful. If left unchecked chronic stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and even heart disease. And while stress might leave you reaching for alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods, these can, in fact, escalate symptoms. 

Instead, regular exercise and a balanced diet supplemented by specific vitamins and minerals can help ease symptoms of stress and set you on the path to make longer-term changes.

If this sounds familiar, why not try one, two or all of our Top 10 ideas to squelch stress and prevent the Winter Blues to help you get, contentedly, through to Spring.

Love the light

Studies show that being exposed to sunlight is crucial for creating and maintaining a positive mood and attitude. During Winter, take every opportunity to enjoy the daylight, by walking to work, sitting in a park at lunchtime, and going for bushwalks and picnics on the weekend. Not getting enough sunlight? Key nutrients to include daily are the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D for a healthy mood and immune system. Vitamin D also helps to boost immunity, include Vitamin C and Zinc to protect against bacterial infections and viruses, not just in winter, but every season.

Must-have magnesium

Magnesium assists muscle and nerve function, with foods such as kale, spinach, yoghurt, almonds, avocado, bananas and even good quality dark chocolate rich in this essential mineral.

A simple, effective way to raise your magnesium levels is with ORA Mag Mood, a unique blend of three highly bioavailable forms of magnesium with mood-supporting herbs and sustainably sourced Cordyceps.

Speak to your Go Vita health consultant and find the best magnesium supplement for you - tablets, capsules, powders, and now even sprays and creams can deliver you a dose of must-have magnesium! Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is just another way to absorb the stress-relieving benefits of magnesium too.

Better with Bs

B-complex vitamins found in many animal proteins protect the immune and nervous systems while promoting mental clarity. So, it is a great way to start the day with a B complex vitamin supplement - check out the latest Nutrivital activated B supplements – to help maintain nervous system function and supports a healthy stress response in the body and emotional wellbeing, your body doesn't have to work as hard for its daily dose of B group vitamins when taken in this form. 

Take time out for Tea 

Swapping out your afternoon caffeine hit for a soothing green tea is a great way to increase levels of theanine, an amino acid used to treat high blood pressure and anxiety. When green tea is paired with ashwagandha and taken regularly, it is an unbeatable combination to improve the body’s capacity to cope with stress and enhance mental function and physical performance, especially during times of overwork, fatigue, exhaustion or convalescence.

St John’s Wort & stress

Since the days of the ancient Greeks, people have taken St John’s wort as a natural remedy for stress, anxiety and mild depression.

The herb is believed to work by preventing nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing the chemical messengers’ serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which are linked to nervous conditions. Clinical trials have found the herb to be as useful as standard antidepressant drugs for the treatment of mild to moderate depression. It is not recommended in cases of severe, biological depression.

Because of the potential for adverse reactions when combined with other medications – particularly warfarin and other antidepressants – it is advisable to consult your healthcare practitioner before taking St John’s wort.

Take to the tub

Add a cupful of Epsom salts, two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath. This helps to soften dry skin, while the sweat induced by the Epsom salts offloads toxins. Time simply spent lying there feeling toasty and relaxed on a chilly Winter evening calms both mind and body, which is critical when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. And if you take your bath right before bed, it helps you get a good night’s sleep, which in turn improves your energy and ability to cope with stress.

Make good scents

Citrus essential oils, such as grapefruit, bergamot and lemon, counter negativity and elevate mood. Add 3-5 drops of each oil to 100 ml of cooled boiled water and pour into an atomiser bottle. Gently mist your face and neck whenever you need a mood pick-me-up.

Don’t forget to breathe

As soon as we are under stress, we breathe shallowly and too fast. An easy do-anywhere exercise to reset your breathing is the Yoga Belly Breath. Lie down or sit up straight in a chair and gently place your hands on your lower belly, below your belly button. Inhale, and allow the breath to reach down to the bottom of your lungs, so your ribcage expands, your belly rounds out and your hands rise. Exhale, release your belly and let your hands fall. Repeat 10 times.

Try Ashwagandha

As the interest in ashwagandha increases, so does the research into its benefits. The research shows that this adaptogenic herb can be taken to help the body to adapt to, or cope with, stress. It’s thought to do this through its ability to reduce stress levels. Most importantly, ashwagandha is known to reduce the symptoms of both stress and mild anxiety.

Exercise & Mindful Nutrition

If you need a pick-me-up, exercise is an excellent tonic. Moderate-to-strenuous activity is best for boosting your levels of feel-good hormones, but even a brief walk may help to lift your mood or calm your stress. Generally, aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

Look after yourself and your mental health by sticking to a nutritious, balanced diet based on fresh fruit and vegetables, good sources of protein such as chicken, fish, legumes and nuts and seeds, a variety of whole grains and healthy fats such as omega-3s from oily fish, chia and flaxseeds, and walnuts.

If you cannot guarantee that you will eat the recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day, take Organic Road Amazing Greens Powder, a tasty, nutrient-packed supplement that can easily be added to food or drinks.

When stress interferes with sleep

Stress often affects your quality of sleep. A calming combination of the traditional herbs hops and passionflower is recommended to help you fall asleep naturally. 

While dietary changes and supplements won’t make life less stressful, they can help build your physical and mental reserves so you can tackle the colder months, and life in general, with confidence.

For professional help, see your GP or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Warning: Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, or are taking prescription medications, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.

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