Written by Nutritional Therapist, Naomi Mead.
We all have moments of workplace frustration, but at this time of year when travelling to and from the office in the dark and cold, this feeling of frustration can turn to something deeper. With the possibility of sunshine and summer holidays seemingly light years away, the 9-5 (or 7-7!) routine can feel particularly bleak.
If jetting off for some winter sun is not an option, what can be done to boost your mood and motivate yourself through the working week? Rather than becoming resigned to endless months of gloom (with the continual countdown to Friday afternoon), these feel-good approaches to a happier winter can help to get you back on track.
More and more evidence is coming to light to show how what you eat can impact on how you feel. The following feel-good foods make great office snacks, so have them close at hand for that 4pm dip:
Brazil nuts- just 3 of these a day provides your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selenium. Studies have shown increased depression and anxiety in individuals who have low levels of selenium.
Winter berries – bursting with mood-boosting antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are also rich in vitamin C, which our bodies have a greater demand for during periods of stress.
Dark chocolate (yes!) – stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It is also rich in magnesium which has a calming effect in the body.
Bananas- their combination of vitamins B6, A, C, tryptophan and potassium give them the ultimate mood-lifting power.
Boost the Bs!
Vitamins B6, B12 and folate are all essential for the production of serotonin- the “feel good” hormone. They also lower homocysteine- an amino acid that has been linked with heart disease and depression.
B vitamins are depleted in the body by both stress and alcohol, so to ensure you boost your B vitamins this winter you should maintain a good intake of the following B-rich foods: green leafy vegetables, salmon, chicken, avocado, nuts & pulses. During particularly stressful times, a B vitamin supplement may also be recommended.
Researchers are now discovering that vitamin D may play a very important role in mental health and depression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9539254.
Studies have shown an association between low vitamin D levels and various mood disorders including depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During the winter it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet, so you may consider a supplement in the D3 form.
It can be hard enough to pack your gym bag let alone get to the gym when you’re feeling down, but regular exercise really is the ultimate mood booster. Exercise is a natural stimulator of many important “feel good” hormones, including serotonin and dopamine. Studies have shown exercise to be equally effective as anti-depressants in improving mood in individuals http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Exercise-and-Depression-report-excerpt.htm.
So if you find yourself battling with the office doldrums this winter, make these simple yet savvy changes and get that spring back into your step.
Naomi Mead is a Nutritional Therapist for Healthspan’s Nutrition Expert and a contributor to HuffingtonPost. The role of nutrition in health is very important to Naomi as well as the therapeutic power of good food. Her main area’s of expertise are weight management, female health, sports nutrition and digestive disorders.