“Light”en Up: Summer’s Comin’, Mamas!

Surprise! The June and July editions of “Mother Matters“ will be published a few days early, thanks to a much-needed mama-cation. Enjoy!

Happy (almost) start of summer, mamas. A change in season brings with it a natural time for reflection. As the hours of daylight lengthen and the night time shortens, seize the shift in time to evaluate how you are feeling with regard to mothering. Could you find greater enjoyment or fulfillment in particular activities? Are certain aspects of motherhood feeling especially challenging? This month’s “Mother Matters” blog highlights 3 researched-based tools that you can employ today to help make motherhood easier and hopefully more enjoyable. In honor of the start of summer, in this edition we pay special homage to light!

 

Look Toward the Light (to Boost Your Mood): Vitamin-D is essential for good health. The body needs “D” in order to absorb calcium, a requirement for enabling bone growth. The likelihood is that it may do a whole lot more than that—everything from helping prevent autism, to reducing the risks for cancer and heart disease—though the evidence is inconclusive. What we do know for sure is that too little Vitamin D can have a negative impact on kids and adults. Insufficient vitamin D, in severe cases, can cause rickets in children. More common during the 19th century in the U.S. and Europe, rickets, from the Old English word “wrickken” meaning to twist or bend,[i] resulted in the abnormal development of soft, malleable bones, often at risk of fracture. In certain under-developed areas of the world, rickets is still problematic.

In adults, there is evidence to suggest that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression. A review of studies including over 31,000 individuals found an association between low vitamin D concentration and depression.[ii] Ask your doctor about having your Vitamin D levels checked (it’s a simple blood test) as well as a recommendation for a dietary supplement if you need a boost. And in these next few months where there is more time to do it, go outside for a walk and soak in some sunlight! (See the next bullet for a tip on timing your walk.)

 

Take a Sunset or Sunrise Stroll—Regular readers of the Blog know that I’m a big fan of walking. This low impact (easy on the joints), cardio-enhancing, activity is a great way to lift your spirits and lose some baby weight (if you’re looking to do so.) During these summer months, consider taking your walk around sunrise or sunset. According to ancient Hindu philosophy, these two time periods make it easier to access “sattva” (pronounced “saht-wah.”) From the Sanksrit, sattva doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it refers more or less to a certain property or energy that is present in the world, and is associated with a sense of goodness, harmony and contentment.[iii] If you practice any form of meditation, you may find that doing so is easier in the early morning and evening. One might attribute this, in part, to the idea that “sattva” may be more readily tapped into at those times.[iv] So lace up your walking shoes and move into the blissful light of sunrise or sunset to boost your sattva!

 

Turn Down the Light: Get Your Zzzzs: With greater daylight, you may be more inclined to stay up later and forced into waking up earlier. Sleep is essential to your overall health—boosting your spirit, keeping your body well and preserving sanity. This is why sleep deprivation makes such an effective torture device—really! If you get a lot of light in your bedroom, invest in blackout shades. Be sure to get them for the nursery as well, if you haven’t already.

Looking for a few additional sleep-stealing tips beyond light-management? Here’s a bonus, courtesy of Nutritional Consultant Patricia Daly, BA, DipHE, NT.[v] She shares that one of the best ways to stave off physical and emotional fatigue is to keep blood sugar levels even throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice are preferable to their white counterparts, which can lead to a rapid spike and drop in pressure. A tall glass of water along with those carbs is also a good idea. Water can keep the bodily systems running smoothly and reduce the risk of constipation—a common culprit of fatigue.  

 

 

[i] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176941.php

[ii] Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:100-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666.

Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Anglin RE1, Samaan ZWalter SDMcDonald SD.

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guṇa

[iv] Lecture on “Happiness;” 5/24/17, The School of Practical Philosophy, New York, NY.

[v] Patricia Daly BA, DipHE, NT Email interviews June 9-September 27, 2016.