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Beating the Winter Blues: How to Get out and Stay out of a Winter Funk
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The lack of natural light is triggering our circadian rhythms (our biological ‘body clock’) to enter a state of semi-hibernation, and we tend to feel a little scrambled and off our normal routine. It’s important to note that the ‘winter blues’ can affect both young and old.

Here are my top 5 tips for happy, nourished winter bodies.

Proper Nutrition
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success this winter season is to ensure you are filling your plate with an abundance of colourful plant-based foods. Look for a balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. Ancient whole grains, naturally gluten-free grains, organic fruits and vegetables, lentils and legumes, lean poultry, grass-fed beef, wild fish, organic eggs, raw nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and nut butters.

Get Outside

Remember when you were a child and your parents would literally have to drag you in the house when the sun went down? Your hands would be freezing, your snow pants and boots soaked from playing in the snow and your cheeks red as a tomato? That was being a kid! Nowadays children are watching way too much tv or glued to their tech. gadgets. Every ones body thrives on activity and fresh air but their young bodies even more so. Create time for them to play outside or make a family event out of it!

Get Some Supplement Support
Not everyone wants to take supplements (or needs to for that matter) but in our cold dark Canadian winters there are just certain things our bodies need more of and really can’t get naturally (no matter how much of a certain food you eat!). Here are the top four supplements that my family takes through the winter months:

  • Vitamin D. Probably the most underrated superstar of our daily health routine. Supporting many functions and synergistic actions in our body, I recommend a liquid form versus a tablet to ensure high absorption (and kids find it easier to take). 
  • Probiotic. More than two-thirds of your immune system lives in your gut and more than half of the neurotransmitter hormones (your free anti-anxiety hormones) are produced in your gut too. Taking a daily supplement of probiotics is my FIRST foundational piece of support to offer anybody at any age (yes. Kids too). 
  • Fish Oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are also critical for proper brain development and mood support. I find a liquid is best for children as you can sneak it into a smoothie. 
  • Mood Balancers. In the darker months even the best of us can get a little down and sometimes experience fatigue and irritability. My secret to keeping a balanced mood throughout the long winter season is a herbal remedy called Neurapas Balance. It’s a unique combination of St. John’s Wort, Passionflower and Valerian from Pascoe that I recommend to almost all my clients who are feeling blue in the winter months.

Sleep
I cannot stress enough how important sleep is to building and maintaining a strong immune system. For school-aged children they should be getting at least 10-12 hours of sleep, and for Mom and Dad we should be getting at least 7-9 hours each night.

Stress
My final and most important tip yet is also the one that usually feels the most challenging: decrease your level of stress. We overschedule our kids with events, ourselves with too many commitments, working late, staying up to search Facebook or watch the latest Netflix program…it’s a big problem and must stop. Take a breath, slow your pace, find your chill zone and visit it often! Perhaps it’s a walk with the family or a friend, maybe it’s game night or date night, maybe yoga, meditating, journaling, colouring or a cup of herbal tea.

Jenn Pike is a mom of two, nutritionist, master personal trainer and author. For more quick and healthy tips and to learn more about Jenn, her best-selling book The Simplicity Project and more, visit 'The Simplicity Project' and follow her on Instagram @jennpike and Facebook under The Simplicity Project.
Comments | Tagged under health, winter, wellness
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5 Ways to Make the Most out of Book Time with Our Kids
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Wandering through the children’s section of a library or book store is like wandering blissfully down memory lane. Books take us back to times with a favourite teacher, a comfy couch with mom and dad, or the bedroom floor—lying on one’s tummy, rereading an old favourite. Life was simple. Books made everything better.

These days, there are so many other ways that kids might spend their time. Yet literacy remains critical to the development of many skills. In addition, book time creates an incredible opportunity for connection with our kids, developing strong relationships, memories, and inspiration for future discussions. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving.

On the other hand, almost every parent has felt their eyes rolling back in their head at the thought of reading that same book one more time! So, how do we get the most out of book time with our kids?

1. Let them ‘read the book’
With young children, choose books with pictures that tell a story and words that rhyme. Your kids can help you ‘read’ the book. Have them finish the sentence using the sounds of the rhyming words and the pictures as clues. They could even tell you a version of the story by going through the pictures. Although they aren’t actually reading the book, when kids have memorized parts of a book and can pretend to read it to you, they see themselves as readers and that encourages future reading.

2. Keep books with you in the car
It’s so easy to let your electronic device entertain the kids while waiting at the doctor’s office. However, if reading is important to your family, get really clear on how much screen time is right for your kids and then use available time for reading, puzzles and other games that allow hands-on problem-solving and creativity development. Reading a book builds a child’s imagination.

3. Visit the library
Feeling trapped in the house? Getting out to the library is a great escape. Kids can look through shelves and shelves of books and discover their own treasures. In addition, story times mean that you don’t have to do all the reading and that your child learns to sit and listen while in a group.

4. Do home-reading during the day and read to them at night
It’s best to do school reading homework during the day. Waiting until a child is sleepy can be really tricky for kids who aren’t confident readers. At bedtime, read books that are slightly beyond your child’s reading level. This exposes little ears to new vocabulary and engages their imagination. It leaves them dreaming of a wonderful story when they close their eyes to sleep.

5. Use the book to start your own story
If you have read the story one time too many, ask your kids a question about the characters or their actions: ‘Have you ever felt that way before?’ ‘What would you do if you saw a giant beanstalk growing up to the sky?’ These are great ways to connect with conversation and build a foundation for your growing relationship.

Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
Comments | Tagged under books, reading
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