Autumn and winter depression and how to fight it

Almost every one of us has experienced it – first the sun is scarce, than the positive green leaves turn from yellow and red to brown and then finally disappear completely after a few weeks. And it hits us that winter is here and we can´t see to shake of the blues. To escape this feeling, I thought I should make a few suggestions in order to beat those negative feelings. 🙂

Let´s move

During the summer we are almost always on the move – we go jogging, we go for trips, we practice outdoor yoga, we use some outdoor workout, we swim or just walk through pretty parks or forests. With the arrival of winter, however, these activities are no longer feasible, so we prefer to clinging to warm duvets and reading a book / watching movies. Our body withers, and the same happens to our psyche. Over Christmas, we add plenty of sweets, and our body gets even worse. Let’s try to change it.

Try to regularly include yoga classes in your program. It does well for both your body and your mind. Yoga is the ideal means to relax the muscles, which get tense during winter because of the cold weather and cause headaches, trapezius pain or lower back pain. During a yoga class your body will heat up, strengthen and expel endorphins, the hormones of happiness. Your mind will concentrate on the right positioning for a while, so it will take a break from all the problems that are constantly swirling in your head. During the final savasana you will be completely relaxed.

Of course, you can also choose other sports. What about running? Start with fast walking and gradually add both the speed and time. If you are not used to running, I do not recommend starting out with running outdoors in the winter, but in a fitness centre.

If you don´t like running either, you can choose any sport suited for you. You can try working out from home along with one of those online videos which are easily available. Alternatively, you can go for a swim or to a fitness centre. Fitness centres are currently full with various group lessons, so try to figure out what could be the best exercise for you.

Loneliness is one of the greatest enemies of a happy life, fight it!

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Add the vitamins

During the summer we always have the sun, so we take plenty of vitamin D. At the same time, we prefer fresh and nutrition-rich foods – fruits and vegetables from the garden / farmer´s markets. With the advent of winter the sun shines less, so the supply of vitamin D decreases. In addition, vegetables that are not completely fresh bring less nutrients, so our body gets much less energy. Both these factors make us weak and sad. They play a negative role in the pursuit of our happiness. To top it all, we end up sick in bed pumped up with medication, which is obviously full of chemicals. Let’s prevent it.

Add energy by carbohydrates and fats, but the health ones. Sweets and cakes will not help your body and your mood. Make a breakfast of gluten-free porridge with fresh fruit, seeds, nuts and a square of bitter chocolate. The nuts have a positive effect on our mood, it has a lot of healthy fats and innumerable of minerals. Eat a few almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts daily and the depression will soon be gone. Likewise, bitter chocolate contains many essential minerals and antioxidants, which protect the heart and brain and brings pleasure. But you should not exaggerate it a lot because of the large amount of sugar, try to eat chocolate with the highest content of cocoa, ideally over 75%.

Try to include food in your diet that will stir up slow metabolism. Use herbs and spices such as cayenne pepper, chilli, curcuma, ginger, cloves or cinnamon. Warm yourself with a strong vegetable broth.

Use fresh sprouts and sprinkle your food with it. Fresh sprouts contain an incredible amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and proteins, which boost immunity, detox your body and help fight depression. Sprouting is very simple, everyone can handle it. There are many techniques on the internet, find one of them. I personally prefer sprouts of chickpeas, lentils, radishes, alfalfa and mungo beans.

In addition to a healthy diet, be sure to have enough water. Lack of hydration is the root cause of headaches. As soon as you get up, drink a glass of warm water with squeezed lemon or lime. It starts up your metabolism – water will provide hydration and lemon will supply plenty of nutrients. Drink tea during the day. In a winter time I strongly recommend a fresh ginger tea. Ginger warmth the body, it has a beneficial effect on our digestive system and immunity. Good organic fruit tea is also excellent, in which you can extract the whole piece of cinnamon and a few cloves. Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, cleanses the digestive tract, strengthens the heart, and fights the cold. At the same time, it adds a sweet taste. Cloves are also known for their antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

If you reduce the time spent in the sun, try adding vitamin D through sun-dried mushrooms or vitamin supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is often underestimated, a large part of the Czech Republic is currently suffering from this, and according to some research, it affects up to 50% of Europe’s population. Lack of vitamin D causes depression, weakness and failing of immunity.

Relax

Many of us focus mainly on working and solving the problems of others. If you do not take a moment for yourself, you will go crazy.

Go for a sauna, whirlpool or massage. If you do not want to spend money on it, do a wellness experience right at home! Take a hot bath, add sea salt or Himalayan salt or a few drops of essential oil. For reducing stress, you can for example use lavender or some kind of citrus. For reducing cold you can use eucalyptus, mint or thyme. Be careful and mix these essential oils with coconut or other base oil before adding them to the bath – adding a concentrated essential oil can cause skin irritation. Enhance the atmosphere by lighting some candles. Close your eyes for a while and turn off altogether, or bring a book with you to fully enjoy this spa. Enjoy a pleasant evening with a cup of lavender tea or a glass of red wine. 🙂

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Smile

This is such a Czech classic. You are in public transport or walking down the street and everyone is frowning at you. Then it will happen quite quickly that you will take all of this negative energy from them. You know what they say “what goes around comes around.”  A smile can turn things for the better. It´ll make you feel better and It´ll make also others feel better. Perhaps, I am naïve, but I am dreaming of a Czech republic that smiles.

Have fun and plan

Being cold out there does not mean you cannot have fun and you have to stay at home. Go to pick mushrooms, rose hips or chestnuts during autumn. You will cleanse your head and your lungs. In the winter, let the child in you come alive – go for ice skating, and when it snows, go for skiing, snowboarding or build a snowman, or just slide down the hill opposite to your house by toboggan (or plastic bag :-D). Schedule a winter or spring holiday, for example a hike to the mountains – for skis, cross-country skiing or just for fresh air and wellness. When you have something to look forward to, you will have a lot more energy and a good mood.

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Do you have your proven tricks to help you fight with autumn and winter depression? Share them in the comments!

As I went to fulfil my dream to India

How a dream became a reality

I had dreamed of traveling to India for several years. Two years ago, I would have never imagined that one fine day, I would pack my bags and take off to India for a whole month only by myself.

With the wisdom of hindsight, it was the best way to make it happened. The truth is I was in a state of constant stress the past few months before I left- I was goings through unfriendly times with my unpleasant roommates and all I did was work from dawn to dusk without time for myself or for my loved ones. I did not know what to do with it. Yoga helped me, but it was not enough. So one day I realised that I needed a pause to figure out what to do with my life. I browsed the internet and I found a yoga teacher training in Goa. I instantly felt the need to move on and thank goodness, I did not hesitate for a second. I felt determined that Goa was calling and I was going to study yoga in India.

Quite naturally, reactions of my friends and family were pretty xenophobic. “To India? You will end up getting robbed or raped.” Or “To India? You will be glad when you return with diarrhoea and not a serious incurable disease. Well, if you ever come back!“ And I’d rather not even describe you the long lectures after I told these people that I planned to go there all alone – to a place where I had never been, and where I did not know anyone. I do not like these negative attitudes – if I went into this with fear and prejudice, something would definitely happen to me because of course I would have attracted it. Actually, I had the opposite problem (not a problem, but rather an approach). It is said that one must not have great expectations, because then he will be disappointed. But I could not curtail my enthusiasm – I was so excited that I spoke about it every day for half a year until I left. And disappointment never found me.

When finally the D day arrived, I found myself a little bit nervous. I had never travelled outside Europe before. Actually, I have never been alone outside the Czech Republic. All sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. Well, when I sat in the plane, all my worries disappeared. Oddly, I felt a pleasant feeling of serenity. I knew I was doing the right thing.

My stay in India

Originally, I planned to go to the traditional Mysore where Ashtanga Yoga comes from, but finally I decided to go to Patnem, a small village in the south of Goa. There were two reasons for doing this – first, it is safer there and more open to the Western people, the ideal place for a young girl who is in India for the first time and alone (at least so I told people who were overly afraid of me) and I also wanted to enjoy the beach and sea to get rid of all the stress (which in the end did not happen because I was either practicing or spending whole afternoons and evenings learning :-D).

I did a teachers training at Tarun Kranti Agrawal, who established a small yoga village here. I really liked how many great people from all around the world met up there. So many life stories, so much enthusiasm and positive energy, which I had not experienced yet. The accommodation in modest cottages right by the beach was magical and a lot of healthy vegan delicacies with Ayurvedic spices healed my body well. No tourists, just us and our yoga practice.

After a few days, my body started to feel good and quickly began a detoxification process – my skin was cleared off acne, my nails stopped breaking, as well as my hair, which instead doubled its growth, I lost weight, I laughed more and my problems with the digestion, which I had for several years, were suddenly gone. The only thing that bothered me a little about the yoga community was the fact that teachers were from the West (though highly educated and experienced). But it is better than have Indian yoga teachers without good knowledge.

Once I got my certificate, I decided to spend the last stretch of my trip travelling around as much as I could. I spend a few days in the gorgeous town of Gokarna, I visited the giant statue of Shiva in Murudeshwar and several other Hindu temples. I also made it a point to visit several wild sanctuaries and spice farms.

What about the robbery, rape or death of rabies?

None of this happened. On the contrary – people from India are as good as gold. Sometimes they do not have money for food but they still laugh. How many times I was lost and they were always willing to help me. It was the absolute opposite of life in the Czech Republic, respectively in Prague. Here you go to the store and the salesperson looks at you bitterly, and does not even say you “hello”.  In India, they are willing to talk to you about anything. A friend from the training had forgotten an expensive smartphone at one store. He realized it in about two hours later. He had said goodbye to it in his mind, but for sure he went to see if it happened to be still there. Well, guess what – the smartphone was there, and the vendor returned it to him with a smile. During the last week I travelled with two female friends by train – in the lowest class wagon, which was mostly full of men. We did not get any disgusting looks or obscene notes; on the contrary, we did some nice conversations. And rabies? I was originally scared a little about that, because I love animals and I knew I would not admire them from a distance. At the beach I cuddled with wild dogs, fed cows with leaves of trees and you see – I am still well and alive.

Of course, this must be taken seriously, you need to take care of everything with the necessary precautions. Yet South India is something else compared to “cruel north”, because it is richer and people are more educated. I just want to prove through my positive experience that life in India should not to be simplified and that it should not be approached in a negative way. Fear gives fuel to hatred. I personally felt much safer in India than in Europe, and I’m definitely not the only one who shares this sentiment.

Return to “normal” life

After returning to Prague, I felt like I was in another world. Everything went horribly fast. Buses and trams were on time and filled with people just frowning or looking at their smartphones. When I returned to the office, I was amazed that it was terribly white and pure in there, I thought that during my absence there the walls had been painted, but then I was told that not, that the office was in the same condition as it was when I left.

Returning to work for me was hard. How could it be easy when only few days ago I was by the seaside and under the sunlight?

The whole experience left a lasting impression on my mind. Unfortunately, some health problems started to surface again, I was missing India more and more every day. Instead of depression, I decided to choose the second option – to fight. Start working hard to make my dreams come true. It is true what it is said – happiness can´t be gained by doing nothing and constantly complaining over and over. Sometimes you have to go against the flow. And so here I am, ready for my second adventure. This time I will take myself to Mysore.

And what about you? Are you going to change your fortunes too?

Namaste.

P.S .: Please don´t hesitate for a second to contact me if you plan to go to India. If you need any help or advice, I will be glad to help you.

P.P.S .: Don´t forget to check out my instagram for more photos from my trip to India.

Vegan “cheesecake” with roasted plums

This dessert is one of my favourites because it is smooth, sweet and still healthy (assuming you don’t use a lot of sugar :-)). It can be prepared in many different ways.

To prepare 6-8 portions of dessert, we need:

  • 200 g biscuits (you can find Lotus biscuits in almost every supermarket, but they are very sweet, so I personally prefer Digestive biscuits or other with lower sugar content)
  • 400 g of natural tofu
  • 400 g of plums
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable margarine
  • Maple / Agave syrup
  • 1 small lemon / lime
  • 100 ml of vegetable milk / yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of agar powder

Time of preparation:

This dessert will be prepared in about an hour (15 minutes of preparation and about 45 of baking). The cake should than rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Procedure:

Plumb Layer

We start with the plum layer, because its preparation takes the most time. First, wash the plums, remove the seed and cut plums into small pieces. Then place them into the baking dish, add the water so that they are approximately 90 percent immersed, add 1-2 tablespoons of syrup, cinnamon, and mix it thoroughly. Bake it at 200° C until the plums soften and the water volume is reduced to half. When the water volume is reduced, remove the bowl from the oven, sprinkle it with the agar powder and mix it thoroughly again. Reintroduce it into the oven for the next 3 minutes but reduce the temperature to 100° C. Then remove the plum bath, cover with lid and let cool it slowly.

Corpus

Crush the biscuits thoroughly in a mixer. Then add the melted margarine and peanut butter. Put it into the baking tray and form a solid approx. half a centimetre layer on both the bottom and the sides. Put it into the oven at 150° C for 10 minutes.

Tofu layer

While the corpus is baking in the oven, we can prepare the tofu layer. This is done by mixing tofu, vegan milk / yogurt, 1-2 tablespoons of syrup and squeezed lemon or lime in the mixer. When the corpus is baked, remove it from the oven and add the tofu cream. Place it into the oven again, this time for 15 minutes.

When you remove it from the oven, add the plum layer.

Let it cool down to room temperature and put it into the fridge.

The next day you can have this yummy for breakfast 🙂