It's Autumn in New Zealand, the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are slowly starting to drop. Winter is coming! As we move into these cooler months we may notice our energy levels are also cooling and the desire to snuggle into a night at home rather than be out socialising is becoming more and more desirable.
The changing weather conditions affect more than your routine outdoor activities—It actually affects some of your body’s natural processes too. If you're experiencing some changes in energy levels, you're not alone and it's completely normal.
As always, with understanding and awareness these transitions can be a little easier. Let’s look at 5 ways the changing season can affect our wellness, and what we can do to support it and keep our energy levels intact.
1. Increased Immunity Needs
As the seasons change it’s common for colds and flu to do the rounds. When exposed to sickness, our immune system kicks in to work extra hard to keep us well. The flow-on effect of this is we use more nutrients than normal to stay free of the flu and other viruses.
This increased need means we have fewer nutrient stores for energy production. Our Everyday Wellness Pack is designed to cover off all bases when it comes to nutrients, vitamins, essential omega-3s, and probiotics as a baseline to keep our immune system robust.
Even if you manage to avoid getting sick this Autumn or Winter, you may still experience a dip in your energy for this very reason. Check out these 7 tips to boost your immunity and help maintain optimal health and energy.
2. We Need More Sleep
The changing weather conditions can disrupt some of our body’s natural processes. And, since this isn't a very well-known phenomenon, we often try to maintain our summer schedule or early exercise and late-to-bed night routine, forfeiting that extra hour or so of sleep that’s needed in the cooler months.
There are several reasons your body wants more sleep in the cooler seasons. The first has to do with less light and our natural sleep hormone production. The lack of natural light in autumn and winter suppresses the release of melatonin; the hormone that tells our body it’s time to get ready for sleep. In summer when sunset is later, our melatonin signals come later. Going to bed later is our body's natural response to light cues.
Because nightfall is earlier in winter, and there is less light overall, we are genuinely more tired earlier in the day. What are our first thoughts when we feel more tired though? Do we take it as a cue that we need more rest? Or, do we push through to fit in our social obligations or fitness regime? If your natural instinct is to keep charging through your routine the next time you feel low on energy, give yourself permission to sleep.
3. We Need To Work Harder For Vitamin D
Incredibly, 84% of New Zealanders’ are deficient in vitamin D. At least 80 nmol of vitamin D daily is the minimum requirement for wellness. Vitamin D controls the DNA of your cells and helps control belly fat through the role of insulin. It plays a key role in the production of pancreatic enzymes and controls the level of calcium in the blood and bone.
It’s common knowledge that we absorb vitamin D from the sun through our skin. However, did you know that this can only happen in summer during the hours of 10 am and 3 pm? This is because the UVB sun rays are only effective in penetrating the atmosphere and our skin’s thickest layer when the sun is at its highest strength.
Because of this, vitamin D is also linked to symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition experienced in the months where we aren’t as exposed to the sun. Symptoms include low mood, low energy, increased fatigue, decreased motivation and brain fog.
As the seasons change it’s important to get enough vitamin D from food sources such as:
- Egg yolks
Organic pork lard.
For a delicious way to enjoy vitamin D-rich foods, try our Smoked Salmon Florentine recipe.
4. Our Motivation Takes A Dip
Our movement patterns change when it is dark, cold or raining and it can be harder to motivate yourself to get outside and exercise. This often means we are more sedentary in the cooler months.
This affects our energy because the benefits of movement extend far beyond weight loss - check out this blog on the benefits of exercise beyond looking good.
If you struggle to include daily movement of any sort as the season's change, find a form of indoor exercise you like or you can even try home yoga or another equipment-free workout session.
5. What We Eat Becomes More Important
Remember optimal health and energy is dependent on getting all the vitamins and minerals we need to support the body’s natural processes. As we can see, these natural hormonal interchanges and reactions are all placed under stress at the change of the season.
Prioritising rest, nutrient dense foods and seasonal produce are all really important factors for managing your energy levels as the season's change.
Supporting your body with vitamin C, like our Super Boost C and checking for nutrient deficiencies or taking the Adrenal Fatigue Questionnaire are important factors to consider - especially during the changing seasons.
As well as ensuring good nutrient density, there are several things you can do with your nutrition to support your immune system during Autumn. Try to include warming spices and herbs such as garlic and ginger which both have proven medicinal qualities.
Autumn is also a time to include slow cooked or steamed vegetables in your diet - as opposed to salads - to give your digestive system a break. My favourite way to eat seasonal produce is to saute them in bone broth.
Bone broth contains healing compounds such as glutamine, collagen, proline, glycine and gelatin. These are essential amino acids and trace minerals that work within the intestines to help seal the gut. They're easily absorbed, allowing them to provide cells with the direct building blocks needed to heal the gut lining.
Easily digestible and very soothing, bone broth is also great for bone health, your skin and also helps support the immune system. Here's our favourite bone broth recipe.