Beat the winter blues with some bottled sunshine

Is winter starting to lose its appeal? Tired of bracing yourself against the cold? Sick of starting your morning in complete darkness? Longing for the days when you still had three hours of daylight left after getting off work?

It’s very common after the holidays to experience a shift in mood, becoming more lethargic and just bummed out. The end of all the excitement of opening gifts, visiting with friends and family, and indulging in holiday fare can make anyone gloomy. Top that off with gray skies, cold temperatures and waaayyyy too much darkness in January, February, and March and you have optimum conditions for the winter doldrums.

So what is the answer? Honey -- sweet, golden-like-the-sun honey! Its soft, glowing color and pure, natural sweetness make it the perfect pick-me-up. And, if you think about it, the true origin – the very beginning – of honey is sunlight. Sunlight hits blossoms, the blossoms produce nectar, honeybees collect the nectar, and the nectar becomes honey. Conclusion: Honey is bottled sunshine. And we all know sunshine is the number one remedy for the winter blues.

In addition to bottled sunshine, exposing yourself to natural sunlight outdoors will help boost serotonin production and your overall mood. It's important to get outside whenever the sun is out during these darker days. Bring your boots to work and take a walk during your lunch break. If you live in an area where there is a lot of snow, take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. It can be as simple as making a snowman with your kids on a weekend afternoon. Even sitting near a window to read for a while can do you some good. In warmer climates like Savannah, GA, where we are headquartered, now is the time for yard work and long walks with your dog.

Mixing sunlight therapy with physical activity will give your mood an extra boost. Research consistently shows a strong connection between exercise and mental health because it increases serotonin and endorphins, both of which affect mood.

Stay away from processed sugars, which have been shown to release harmful free radicals, which can cause inflammation. Some forms of depression can stem from chronic, low-grade inflammation. Honey, on the other hand, is not a processed sugar but a natural sugar known to reduce inflammation. Unlike processed sugars, honey contains proteins, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which are beneficial to the mind and body. The carbohydrates in honey also give you an instant energy boost.

Honey also contains …

Quercetin and Kaempferol: These beneficial compounds help clean up free radicals and reduce inflammation, helping to maintain healthy brain function.

Magnesium: This mineral has been shown to be beneficial while fighting depression.

Tryptophan: Unlike processed sugars, honey raises blood sugar level only slightly. The controlled rise of insulin causes tryptophan to enter our brain where it gets converted into serotonin. In darkness, serotonin is converted into melatonin, a well-known sleep aid.

So hang in there. Winter won’t last forever. In the meantime, open a bottle of sunshine and feel better!