by Liz Reid
Well, January seemed to have lasted three months and February, about 30 minutes in comparison…
and here we are, now in March and the start of spring!
The days really are drawing out now with noticeably much shorter nights and the birds sure told us in February that spring was on its way! The clocks spring forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 26th March this year, so it really is time to embrace and welcome the return of spring!
As the Mad March hares box in the fields and plants that were dormant from the winter months, suddenly re-emerge and burst forth their purest green, the landscape becomes painted and awash with colour once more.
With the return of spring, so returns the light and greater heat of the sun. A lack of light and reduced sunshine in winter can make us feel quite low, so it’s important to get outside, even on a grey day and go for a walk, soaking up some natural daylight. It is even more crucial to make time for this if you work inside all day long. When you have a break, head outside, even if you only have 10 minutes… time yourself and walk for 5 minutes one way and then about-face and walk the 5 minutes back. This short walk will refresh your mind as well as your body.
By not exposing ourselves to daylight, it makes us sleepy, drowsy and even fatigued. Let your mind and consequently, your body know that it’s daytime and get outside, making sure you really tap into and connect with your surroundings, enjoy the environment, look up to the skies and see the colours; even a cloudy sky can be stunning and quite beautiful! It can be refreshing having a walk in the rain too, providing you have good waterproof shoes and a raincoat on! No fun though if you’re soaked through… unless in a romantic ‘Love Actually’ kind of way, of course!
The Pineal gland is a small pine-shaped gland, within the centre of the brain and is part of your endocrine system. So, when you are outside in nature, you literally soak up the daylight and the Pineal gland releases the hormone Melatonin, which regulates your sleeping and awake patterns. This tiny gland is sensitive to light and dark, helping to regulate our circadian rhythms. If you have disturbed sleep, then the rhythm can be upset, leaving you tired, affecting your mood, and making you susceptible to irritability as well as feeling down.
Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) can really affect your mood and stimulate cravings for carbohydrates, so if you are susceptible, make sure you schedule regular daily time slots to expose yourself to daylight, particularly on a sunny, blue sky day, which can make a massive difference, boost Vitamin D levels great for a healthy immune system and help you combat the SAD syndrome.
Remember, also that the light which comes off your smartphone or TV at night, can really disrupt your sleep, as the light wakes up your brain, tricking it into believing it’s daylight and that you need to be active. The light from these devices can stop the production of Melatonin, making you feel less sleepy and in fact, then become wide awake, so set limits on your phone and turn off all notifications after a certain time at night (except for your emergency nearest and dearest contacts) and don’t be tempted to look at your phone whilst laying in bed trying to get to sleep. Catch up instead in the morning when you do need to be awake and get up!
So, don’t be sad this spring but get out there and into the light. Meeting up with others for a cuppa or going to an exercise class can really lift your mood from social interaction, as well as benefiting from having a workout. You’ll soon have a spring in your step, and be able to think through problems and worries easier with solutions being clearer, allowing you to establish an action plan, which you can tick off and tackle.
If you fancy a fun, friendly and effective exercise class, which lifts your spirits as well as your legs, then visit www.corefactorpilates.co.uk for details of local Pilates classes available at both venues and streamed live on Zoom!