Surviving seasonal changes [#TBT]
Happy almost Fall to those of you who are in the northern hemisphere and Spring if you’re in the southern!
I personally love the cycle of seasons and the variety they add to life. I can’t wait to indulge in some of my favorite fall foods and decorate my house with all things Halloween.
But I didn’t always feel this way…
Seasonal shifts used to really get me down because of the impacts they had on my health. Living in a foggy state, with migraine headaches, a runny nose, sinus congestion, and other seasonal-related health issues isn’t fun.
So this week I’m bringing back a super helpful blog to help you feel your best during these seasonal shifts!
Every Fall and Spring I would struggle with:
- Foggy brain
- Low energy
- Earaches or infections
- Coughing and sneezing
- And downright just feeling blah!
When I moved from Northern California to sunny San Diego for college, I thought it was odd when I began suffering from seasonal allergies. I moved from a farming town full of pollen to a place with refreshing ocean breezes so it didn’t really equate. I brushed it off, completely ignoring the smoke signals my body was sending.
I’ll never forget walking home on the dreadfully hot days in the Fall. Yes, it can get very hot in San Diego from about August to November due to the Santa Ana winds coming from the East, pulling dry heat and all kinds of pollen with them. I lived in a seasonal allergy fog on those days. I couldn’t think straight as I had headaches and recurring earaches, and despite how much coffee I drank, I couldn’t break the wall of fatigue.
Now seasonal shifts are a blip on my radar. I still feel them but they don’t take me down the way they used to anymore. For perspective, my symptoms are a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-10 when they used to be an 8 to 10.
Seasonal allergies might be common but they are not necessarily normal.
The frequency and intensity of seasonal allergies can be clues about the strength of your body’s immune system since they are an indication of an inflammatory response; the more frequent and intense, the lower your immune system is.
The stronger and healthier your immune system is, the more adaptable it is and thus less reactive to things like pollens and allergens in the air.
Over time, I have implemented strategies to reduce the overall inflammatory load on my body that have taken the intensity of my seasonal sensitives down drastically. When the seasons change, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep even the smallest symptoms at bay.
In this week’s video and blog, I share some of my best tips and strategies to help you survive seasonal changes and feel like your best self any time of year.
When seasonal shifts really started to hit in my early 20’s, my inflammatory way of living at the time didn’t help my case. As most of us do, I lived up my college days going to frat parties, eating pizza or burritos late at night to sober up. All the while, I was going to school full-time, hitting the gym hard to burn off what I was consuming, working part-time, and juggling an internship.
My body never got a break. I broke it downtime and time again, pushing it to its limits.
Our body will do anything we ask it to, but that doesn’t mean we should. When we’re young we don’t realize this though, we think we are invincible. Digestive issues were never a problem for me so I never linked the foods I was eating to how I was feeling. I pursued perfection in my personal and professional life because I thought that’s what I needed to do to be accepted, loved, and successful.
All of the busy-ness, the doing, and the moving elicits a chronic low-grade stress response in the body. It triggers your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your “fight or flight” response, signaling the body to release cortisol hormone. Cortisol is your body’s response to stress but it also helps to regulate your energy balance, sleep quality, blood sugar regulation, inflammation, and hormone pathways.
This busy-ness response paired with emotional stress, less than ideal nights of sleep, hitting the gym hard, hidden environmental toxins, alcohol, and sub-optimal food choices increases the demand for cortisol to regulate stress and inflammation.
The constant demand for cortisol due to an overstimulated fight or flight response really starts to wear down your body over time, and it can lead to all kinds of imbalances, health issues, a weakened immune system, and even seasonal allergies.
To strengthen the immune system and boost the body’s ability to handle seasonal changes, all you have to do is minimize the burden of stress and demand for cortisol.
You can do this daily by:
- Eating an anti-inflammatory diet
- Being asleep by 10 pm and sleeping through the night
- Moving your body daily and decreasing exercise intensity on days you feel tired
- Drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water to flush toxins
- Taking time to destress and disconnect daily even if it’s for 5 minutes at a time
- Gradually eliminating toxins from your environment
Along my health journey, I have incorporated all of these strategies into my daily way of eliminating seasonal health issues and creating long-lasting sustainable results.
Occasionally, I can still feel seasonal shifts and I’ll have a little less energy than normal, a tickle at the back of my throat, or a few more sneezes than usual. None of which used to debilitate me like previously, but I’d rather not feel them at all so I take a few extra precautions during seasonal changes to minimize even these minor inconveniences.
To further support my body during seasonal changes I also…
..choose to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth and eat foods that are in season to ensure my body is getting the nutrients it needs for the time of year, to keep my digestion balanced, and eliminate contributors to inflammation.
…use essential oils to help reduce inflammation, open up airways, and flush toxins. My favorite essential oils elixir is 1 drop of lavender, peppermint, and lemon in a shot glass of water once or twice a day. Lavender is anti-inflammatory, peppermint opens airways and blood flow, and lemon boosts detoxification. (NOTE: be sure to use food-grade essential oils such as doTerra)
…set up a salt lamp on my nightstand with an outlet timer turning it on 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. As the days get shorter and the sun rises later it can be harder to get up in the morning time. The soft glow of the salt lamp mimics the sunrise and helps to encourage the release of cortisol in the morning to give you the energy needed to get out of bed. I also use the light of a salt lamp at night instead of regular lights to reduce my exposure to artificial light that can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep you get.
…use my castor oil pack 3 to 5 times per week for a variety of health-supporting reasons. Castor oil increases oxytocin levels (your love and wellbeing hormone), reduces cortisol (stress hormone) and inflammation, boosts digestion and detoxification, supports prostaglandins for overall hormone balance and so much more!
I find when I practice these acts consistently around seasonal change, those old allergy symptoms are nothing more than a bump in the road that I just roll right over.
Would you like to be essentially seasonal allergy-free too?
Apply what I’ve shared and on the path to feeling like your best self no matter what time of year it is!