Joint pain can trigger increased levels of a hormone related to stress known as cortisol. Combine higher-than-healthy cortisol levels with reduced outdoor activity and less exposure to sunlight in the winter and you have what’s commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This seasonal ailment plagues people primarily during winter, when cold temperatures and shorter days prevent many from taking the joy from nature — or from simply walking out into the warm sun — that they find in summer.
People with arthritis or other joint pain symptoms may have a tougher time with SAD if they already feel their movements are limited because of their chronic pain.
Of course, there are multiple anti-depressants and other forms of medication used in combating SAD and other conditions that can affect people with arthritis during colder months. But many natural solutions can help to put you in a better mood and also relieve those pesky flare-ups in the joints. Here are a few that match the #HakaLifeWarrior lifestyle.
As always, you should speak to your doctor to figure out what is best for you.
As Harvard Health notes that one in 10 American adults has shown signs of depression, doctors and scientists highlight the importance of remaining active as a primary means of countering depression’s effects. We know that being active isn’t always easy for those of us with joint pain and inflammation.
The good news is that you don’t have to run laps at the park in order to combat depression or SAD. Regular bouts of low-intensity exercise like pickleball, stretching, or even a good walk can have a massive impact on your mood.
“High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the “runner’s high” that joggers report,” the Harvard Health Letter says. “But for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time.”
Indoor activities like yoga, stationary bike riding, or pilates can get the blood moving faster through the body and have a major impact on your mood, while simultaneously benefitting arthritis symptoms and other forms of joint pain.
To help add these activities to your daily life, try to form a routine — maybe you do a few minutes on the bike in the morning and then some stretches to loosen up before getting into bed. One thing that many of our customers enjoy is finding a walking partner and heading out a few times a week to walk, chat, and get some fresh air — even if that air has a chilly bite to it.
Try a lamp
It wouldn’t be “these days” without technology attempting to come to the rescue. Several companies have produced lightboxes that have become known as “SAD lamps” — lamps or lights meant to counteract the lack of natural light your body is used to getting during warmer months.
Look for a lightbox that produces cool-white fluorescent light to at least 10,000 LUX. This level of brightness is far brighter than a typical house lamp, so you’ll also want to make sure it can be adjusted to face up or down, so it’s not shining directly into your eyes.
Be sure the lamp is labeled as UV free in order to avoid harmful radiation, and make sure it is designed specifically to treat SAD. Our favorites are the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp and the Flamingo Floor Lamp.
Once you have the lightbox, talk to your doctor about how much time to spend in its aura on a daily basis. You’ll come to think of this time as a “session,” with the end goal being to increase your mood through consistent “sessions.”
Add natural light (where you can)
Adding a bit of natural light to your life can do wonders in combating SAD. One way you can do this in winter is to wake up a bit earlier and sit by a window over a cup of coffee or tea and watch the day come to life — or, if it’s warm enough, even sit outside for a short period of time.
The UK’s National Health Service recommends adding as much natural light to your day as possible. To help minimize the effects of SAD, it says, “try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial,” and also says that you should “make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible.”
Use an omega-3 supplement
Omega-3 fatty acids are the “healthy fats” you hear about in magazines and health blogs. These naturally-occurring fatty acids are essential to optimal joint health and overall nutrition, but cannot be produced by the human body — we have to get them from elsewhere.
By adding an Omega-3 supplement like GLX3 to your diet, you’re getting the daily recommended amount of omega-3s to combat joint pain and inflammation, reducing the risk of arthritis or other chronic pain triggering or worsening SAD.
Often when it comes down to combat chronic pain and SAD together, a multi-pronged approach is required — and a supplement like GLX3 can combine with a light box, your workout routine, diet, and other aspects of your healthy lifestyle.
Now that’s the Haka Life Way!
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