Cold air when you wake up, rain and shrinking daylight... Even if trees are particularly beautiful when they change colours, autumn can be a gloomy time of year. We feel more tired, more depressed, and some of us start to cough. As soon as summer ends, energy levels drop and the first seasonal viruses start circulating again. How can you keep your spirits up and stay fit? Here are four tips for seeing the season in a positive light and getting through the winter with peace of mind.
Tip 1 – Replenish your vitamin D levels
Who said there was no more sun in autumn? Of course, there's a lot less of it than at the height of summer, but October, for example, still brings us some lovely cloudless days. Therefore, as the ultraviolet rays appear, don’t forget to go outdoors and sunbathe. Vitamin D, which is synthesised by our skin, boosts our natural immunity and our mood. The experts at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) tell us: vitamin D is important for our health. Not only does it regulate calcium and phosphorus metabolism, but according to recent research it may also play an important role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases and infections.
- What vitamin D intake is recommended? According to the FOPH, the minimum value is 600 IU (international units), which corresponds, for example, to 10 to 20 minutes' exposure to the sun during lunchtime at the height of summer. For people over the age of 60, the FOPH recommends 800 IU per day, with vitamin D supplementation not necessarily on medical prescription. In late autumn, winter and early spring, the sun's rays are too weak for a sufficient intake. Studies show that, during this period, vitamin D levels in the Swiss population can fall below the recommended value. October and November are therefore the ideal months for topping up your reserves for the winter! However, it is recommended to spend more time in the sun, at least 45 minutes in October and one and a half hours in November, if possible at midday, when the sun's rays are strongest.
- If it rains, include vitamin D in your meal! Vitamin D can also be found in food, such as fish (tuna, herring, salmon, sardines), fresh mushrooms and eggs, especially raw egg yolks. In general, all fish oils, as well as olive oil, are beneficial. It's easy to see why our grandparents used to go on cod liver oil cures in winter...
Tip 2 – Take preventive cures
Autumn is the time to prepare your body for winter and focus on prevention to avoid viruses, sluggishness and seasonal flu. Our top three autumn cures:
- Honey and bees Whether harvested and processed by bees (honey, propolis, pollen) or created by them (royal jelly), all products from the hive are excellent immunity boosters.
- Herbal medicine Also known as healing plants. Echinacea, cypress and ginseng all give our immune systems a boost and help us fight tiredness.
- Citrus fruits Filled with vitamin C, citrus fruits are not only invigorating but also detoxifying. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit help us to keep our spirits up, but also to recover more quickly when we're ill. Grapefruit seed extract is also a powerful antioxidant.
Don't forget to ask your pharmacist for advice on the duration and dosage suited to your needs and health condition.
Tip no. 3 – Stay active
With the return of the cold, it's tempting to curl up in your blanket on the sofa... But don’t! Get motivated and try to exercise every day. It's a well-known fact that sport releases the feel-good hormone serotonin and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. This is a real boost for our dwindling spirits. What's more, the list of benefits of physical activity is as long as your arm: protection against the onset of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and so on. And by helping us maintain a healthy weight, sport also reduces the risk of obesity and improves our sleep.
Rest assured, you don't need to run a marathon. Try 15 minutes of jogging during your lunch break once or twice a week and you'll see the positive effects on your mind.
Final tip – Allow yourself some rest
After all that, you can finally get some rest... Well, the good news is that even if you forget any of the above three tips and get enough rest, this will still have a beneficial effect on your health. So don't feel guilty and do allow yourself a day curled up on your couch with a blanket. Quite simply because rest, and particularly healthy sleep, is necessary for our hormones to function properly and therefore essential for our physical and mental health. And don't forget that when autumn comes along and night falls more quickly, it's perfectly normal to feel tired. Our energy levels drop because we need daylight. We often talk about seasonal depression, which affects 3% of the population during the months of November and December. Therefore, it's sometimes best to listen to your body and turn down a night out with friends to take some time to recharge your batteries. And yes, fatigue combined with stress is the perfect combo for getting sick or depressed at this time of year.