With the festive season drifting into a distant memory and a return to routine imminent, brain experts are advising we make 2024 the year we adopt a holistic approach to health, to help combat the inevitable blues.
But, how do we do that?
And, is it realistic to introduce a whole new set of habits into our already busy lives?
A group of neurologists believe by adding simple and easy-to-implement lifestyle changes we can instantly address our mood, sleep, physical health, and lifestyle factors, putting us on the path to a better life.
No matter how busy work gets, brain experts say we should be making it a priority to step outside for 10-15 minutes every day before noon.
To maximise the benefits of this practice, we should be positioning ourselves to face east, as this aligns with the direction of the morning sun.
It’s also important to repeat this practice in the evening, during sunset, this time facing west – the direction in which the sun sets.
While it’s crucial to safeguard your skin from the sun, this practice encourages ample sunlight into the eyes, so consider removing your sunglasses for this brief exposure.
Exposure to natural light in this way and timeframe is essential for supporting the hormonal system because the amount of light entering the eyes during these times directly influences the production and regulation of hormones in the body, such as serotonin, melatonin and cortisol, playing a critical role in mood and sleep patterns.
This effectiveness extends even to areas with cloudy weather, as the light can penetrate through clouds.
Grounding, also known as earthing, is a practice that involves physically connecting with the Earth’s surface to absorb its natural, subtle electrical charge.
In our modern lives we are often insulated from direct contact with the Earth due to the prevalence of rubber-soled shoes, buildings, and other non-conductive materials. Research indicates that grounding can reduce inflammation, help manage stress levels, and improve sleep patterns.
To practise grounding, all you need is to locate a patch of grass, sand, or even mud, and let your bare skin make contact with the natural earth. You can either walk or stand barefoot on the ground to experience its benefits.
Aim to spend at least 20 minutes every day practising this to see the benefits.
In addition, immersing yourself in hot springs is a fantastic way to practice grounding. Australia is one of the best places in the world to experience the rejuvenating benefits of natural geothermal pools with its abundance of natural hot sources, but closer to home water temperatures across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie are currently sitting between 23 and 26 degrees – just another reason to take the plunge at Bar Beach this week.
Experts at Brainworks Neurotherapy say setting a fixed bedtime for each evening, putting away your phone, turning off the lights, and gently closing your eyes is the best way to beat the blues.
This simple lifestyle adjustment is often underrated, yet it stands as one of the most effective anti-stress habits.
Going to bed at the same time every day offers multiple benefits: It aids in regulating our circadian rhythms, ensuring our body’s internal clock is in sync. This, in turn, helps stabilise the production of crucial hormones like melatonin and cortisol. Such regularity not only contributes to improved sleep quality but also plays a vital role in stabilising mood and promoting better mental health.
While the natural reaction when experiencing post-holiday blues might be to isolate oneself, it’s essential to try the opposite by nurturing connections with others.
Engaging in social activities, whether with friends, family, or support groups, can offer a sense of connection and belonging acting as a potent antidote to feeling down.
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