Daylight Savings has officially come to an end, and while we typically enjoy the extra hour of sleep November brings, this drastic time change can also mean major setbacks for health and wellness. A lack of daylight can disrupt sleep cycles, cause depression and has even been linked to poor heart health. In an office setting, the lack of natural light can have a huge impact on productivity, directly affecting factors like mood, alertness and metabolism. While you may not be able to control the sunlight, there are certain steps you can take to maintain your physical and mental wellness when the time comes to “fall back.” Here are our wellness tips to stay healthy and happy when the sun goes down.
1. Let the Light In
Sunlight is really important to physical and mental health – so important it can actually cause disordered behavior when it disappears. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression that is triggered by the decrease in sunlight we see during the winter months. People diagnosed with SAD typically present symptoms like lack of energy, oversleeping and lack of motivation, which can influence productivity in the workplace and overall physical health. If left unchecked, SAD can lead to more serious conditions, including obesity and diabetes, so it’s important to address symptoms as they arrive. Light therapy is one option that may improve physical and mental health when the sun starts to set. During treatment, people sit next to an extra bright “light box” for 30 minutes every day, which stimulates the brain and balances your body’s circadian rhythm. Maintaining this natural balance is essential for mental and physical wellness, as it affects crucial factors like quality of sleep and metabolism. If you think light therapy is right for you, be sure to consult a medical professional at your local KINETIC wellness center.
2. Workout During Peak Sunshine Hours
During the winter months, sticking to an exercise routine can prove difficult. Daylight is a key element in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm, and, when it is suddenly absent, it can leave us feeling sluggish and off our game. An article published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that daylight plays a huge role in boosting our energy levels, so there’s no better time to fit in a workout than when the sun is shining. After Daylight Savings, consider taking full advantage of the daylight by making time for a lunch-hour workout. An outdoor jog or bike ride at peak sunshine hours will ensure you get that vital exposure to sunlight, which will keep you energized and motivated throughout your workday. KINETIC, fueled by Irvine Company, offers a variety of outdoor exercise programs, such as lunchtime yoga sessions, which can provide invigorating activity without disrupting your workday. Studies have also shown that cells reach peak performance when you are most awake, so, if your body clock is telling you it’s time to exercise, be sure to listen to it!
3. Curb Cravings for Unhealthy Foods
As the days grow shorter, you might notice the temptation to choose a big plate of mac n cheese over a fresh salad. It turns out there’s actually a scientific reason for this. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition uncovered that caloric intake varies from season to season, with caloric intake peaking in the fall and body weight reaching its highest in the winter. Researchers postulate that this peak in weight gain is due to a primal desire to store calories in preparation for the colder seasons. Whether it’s seasonal depression or simple biology, poor eating habits can cause a variety of issues, both mentally and physically, including that dreaded midday slump. Foods that are high in glucose, like pasta or sugary snacks, cause a burst of energy followed by fatigue. Alternatively, foods that are rich in fat, like cheeseburgers or pizza, are difficult for the body to digest, which leads to oxygen depletion, and, again, fatigue. To sustain a steady source of energy throughout the fall and winter months, be sure to incorporate a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains and nutrient-rich vegetables. Preparing meals that are packed with vitamins and minerals will keep you feeling and looking your best all-year round.
It’s no secret that “falling back” after Daylight Savings can be a real shock to the body and mind. Luckily, there are a few key steps you can take to work smart and live well during the fall and winter. For more fitness and wellness tips, be sure to visit your local KINETIC wellness center where you can find on-site exercise facilities, wellness centers and more.