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Adjusting Your Circadian Rhythm with the Changing Seasons

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by Angela Gallardo in Articles

This Tuesday, December 22nd marks the start of a new season.

The first day of winter (in the northern hemisphere), known as Winter Solstice, can often feel like heavy sentence for those who live in colder climes.  Winter is associated with moistdamp, andslow movement.  And because those words often carry a negative connotation, the change can be difficult to successfully (read: happily) transition through.

As a warm-blooded Arizona girl at heart, this has been particularly challenging for me.  I love lots of activity, the warm sun on my face (best while swimming laps outdoors), and quick & efficient movements.  Basically the opposite of the winter I’m dealing with here in the Pacific Northwest, where we’ve had many unseasonably wet days.  (Who knew it could rain even more than all the time?)

I love, love, love my acupuncturist (who I see for fertility and mood/energy work) and I’ve worked with her this season to overcome some of the “blanket of cold and dread” that winter often threatens.  Here are a few helpful things I have begun to put into place that I am now passing onto you.

3 Tips for Embracing Winter

  • Embrace slow movement.  I have literally pulled items off of my to-do list and not rescheduled them (eek!).  I’ve allotted more time than normal to every day activities.  An extra 15 minutes for sipping on my morning lemon ginger water and an extra 30 minutes to wind down at bedtime.  It helps tremendously to remind you to breathe, relax, and feel acceptance for the slower season.
  • Increase your Vitamin D intake.  This is spoken of often but I can’t stress how important this is for those (like me) who live with a lot of cloud coverage.  Vitamin D is crucial for many processes in the body, but particularly helpful for mood and sleep regulation.  I found that after daylight savings hit, my body was taking a long time to adjust to the earlier bedtime.  But once I upped my Vitamin D to about 150% my previous daily dose and divided between morning and evening, the time to fall asleep shortened quickly.  (For those who are curious, I use this liquid K2/D3 blend.)
  • Move your body earlier & go to bed earlier.  One of the best changes I made once fall was in full swing was waking up earlier.  Yes, it’s extremely hard to get up with hours before the sun rises but I can promise it’s worth it.  A. you’re up when the sun hits, which is great for circadian rhythm (particularly if you can get out into some direct sunlight) and B. you’re that much more tired by the time night falls.  Early sunsets can make the evenings drag on and on and on so my recommendation is to set your evening routine slightly earlier (where possible): eat dinner earlier, wind down earlier, and get to sleep earlier.  Need something to do when you’re up so early?  My favorite is 6 AM yoga.

Building new habits during a new season can breed a great amount of acceptance and peace.  So rather than cursing the gray skies, you may start to enjoy their presence simply because you enjoy the newfound change of pace.  Winter is often referred to as a season of hibernation; and while I don’t recommend we all go sleep for months in a cave (as dreamy as that sounds), I do encourage you to think on how you can retreat inwards just a bit.  It’s a great place to be when Spring approaches and our bodies are ready for the accompanying rebirth and rejuvenation.

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