Sleep well, stay well this winter


As the temperature plummets and daylight dwindles, a pervasive sense of melancholy can knock on the door. Known as the ‘winter blues’, this common affliction is a stark reminder of how much seasonal changes can influence our mental health. By acknowledging this reality and prioritising self-care during the chilly months, we can adopt simple yet effective holistic practices to boost our spirits and keep our well-being in check.

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Mindset: The Power of Positive Thinking

Our thoughts are incredibly powerful (at risk of sounding cliché) because they make a serious difference. They impact our mood, behaviour and overall well-being. When we have negative thoughts, we can quickly spiral into a negative mindset, affecting our mood and energy levels. One of the most effective ways to counter this is by practicing positive thinking. Easier said than done? Try this: focus on the good things in our lives, even if they may seem small, actively try to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of thinking, “I hate the cold”, try to focus on the benefits of the season, such as cozy nights in with a soothing hot bath, a heartwarming movie or book, or explore some new winter activities with friends and family you’ve been meaning to try. Envision snowboarding down one of our majestic mountains or learning to surf the invigorating sea in a winter wet suit to really feel alive.

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The Importance of Deep Sleep: A Quality Mattress

We all know that getting enough sleep is essential for good health, but did you know that the quality of our sleep can also impact our mental health? Poor sleep can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and irritability. One of the most significant factors affecting the quality of our sleep is the mattress we sleep on. Investing in a high-quality, comfortable mattress can make a world of difference in our sleep quality and overall well-being. Look for a mattress that offers comfort and support, and make sure to replace your mattress every 8-10 years. Pair this with supplementing a generous sprinkle of magnesium glycinate powder or encapsulated equivalent and a dash of botanical remedies like passionflower, valerian or lemon balm, and you’ll be snoozing into the land of sweet dreams before you know it.

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The food we eat can make or break our feel-good vibes. So, what can we eat to feel our best selves? After all, our brain depends on it. Aim for eating the rainbow of seasonal fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil, whole grains and lean proteins. Additionally, nutritional supplements can help boost our mood and energy levels, such as vitamin D, an activated b-complex, probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t relish eating fatty fish like a grizzly bear? Fear not! You can still reap the benefits of omega-3s by supplementation with your meals. Looking for a delectable pick-me-up to get you through the afternoon slump? Whip up a wholesome magnesium-rich, antioxidant- boosting hot cacao drink for an energy boost to tackle the rest of the day! The magic is theobromine, a natural stimulant like caffeine but with a milder effect, to improve focus, alertness, and overall energy levels without that jittery feeling some people experience with caffeine. Give it a try: in a small saucepan, heat a cup of plant-based milk until hot, add a tablespoon of cacao powder (note it’s the whole health food powder cacao, not cocoa), 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup or honey and a pinch of cinnamon or splash of vanilla extract to taste. Whisk until combined, then enjoy!


Get Outside & Move: Fresh Air Does Wonders

Let’s face it; when was the last time you took a stroll and felt down afterwards? Exactly! Get those endorphins flowing and discover how a simple walk can be a surefire way to re-energise. While it’s tempting to hibernate all winter, getting outside and soaking up some sunshine is crucial for mental health. Sun exposure triggers the production of vitamin D, essential for mood regulation, particularly if you leave your sunnies off for the first 10 minutes or so to activate the feel-good neurochemical serotonin through your eyes, which naturally converts to the sleep hormone melatonin at night. Even on cloudy days, spending time outside can promote feelings of well-being, even if it’s just a short walk around the block. Regular exercise can help boost mood, reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Find an activity that you enjoy daily to boost natural feel-good endorphins, whether it’s yoga, running or dancing around the lounge to some uplifting music with your kids (or fur babies). Struggling to stay motivated? Consider finding an exercise buddy or joining a class on those rainy days to keep you accountable.


The Bedroom Sanctuary: Comforting Night-time Rituals

Creating a peaceful, calming and clutter-free environment can promote a positive mindset and better sleep quality. One significant factor affecting our bedroom environment besides our mattress is lighting. Bright overhead lighting can be harsh and disruptive. Instead, use soft, warm lighting such as bedside lamps or candles (use with care). Additionally, clutter can feel overwhelming, so try to keep your bedroom tidy and organised. Finally, consider incorporating regular night-time rituals, like reading a book, sipping on relaxing chamomile tea, or practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yin yoga (easy poses seated and lying on floor, no touching toes required). If you’re seeking to calm the hamster wheel in your brain, consider dabbing some relaxing essential oils like lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang or clary sage onto your pillowcase, alternatively add to your aromatherapy mister for a tranquil and serene ambiance.

To sum up, our mental health can be significantly affected by seasonal changes, but by incorporating minor adjustments and practicing self-care, you can overcome the winter blues and relish the simple joys of the season.

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Compiled By Kathleen Schubert, functional health practitioner & Director of Dr Kathleen & Team

About Kathleen Schubert

Dr Kathleen is a Naturopathic/Functional Health Practitioner and Owner/Director of Dr Kathleen & Team Global Consulting. She has worked as a functional and naturopathic practitioner for over a decade, and has a Doctorate in Integrative Medicine (Practicing Naturopathic & Functional Health) and a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She is passionate about helping her clients achieve their best possible well-being through functional pathology testing, holistic nutrition, practical movement, lifestyle recommendations and her cutting-edge wellness strategies*.

 *Please note that Dr Kathleen is not a registered GP in New Zealand – she works within the natural health realm with non-pharmaceutical recommendations.

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