Seasonal Depression: How to Overcome It Naturally

seasonal depression

Seasonal depression is thought to affect 10-20% of Americans

Seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder, winter fatigue, tiredness; it is a stark reality that during the winter months we are more prone to drops in mood and a dearth of energy. While many people will suffer from fatigue in the winter, for others it takes on the more serious form we know as seasonal depression. There is a biological reason: seasonal depression is a manifestation of a shortage of daylight; the hormone that controls our sleep and waking cycles, known as melatonin, is produced in greater quantities and this could be the end reason for your enhanced level of sleepiness! We are helpless to control the seasons, but we can exercise control over our lifestyles, and this will determine the degree to which the winter months hold you back. 

What you can do in the face of seasonal depression:

  • Control your diet: think about the foods which give energy and those that take it away. Complex carbohydrates contribute clean burning fuel that keeps you going while sugar often boosts you temporarily but leaves your blood sugar low in its wake. 

  • Exercise: it gets you outside, it gets your heart rate up and endorphins rushing, and lets you recoup some of that valuable vitamin D from sunlight that is harder to come by in the winter time.

  • Control your environment: try to let natural light in, light candles and create a relaxing space that buffers stress at home. 

Winter does not have to be your period of seasonal depression.

At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we believe that with simple lifestyle adjustments and regular chiropractic care, you can boost your vitality and keep energy levels high throughout the season. Chiropractic adjustment balances the spine and regulates the nervous system, helping you to think clearer and the energy to flow more freely. While chiropractic is not a direct treatment for seasonal depression, we can help you to address shortcomings in your lifestyle which could be contributing to the overall condition. Today marks solstice and from now on the days are only going to get longer, so take heart and call your Dunedin chiropractor to schedule an appointment today! 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

Importance of the Lumbar


Low back pain is one of the foremost afflictions of modern life.

And it begins with the lumbar: by diameter, the five largest vertebrae in the human body are those of the lumbar and they are responsible for bearing the weight of the upper body. In fact, we would be fortunate if all they had to do was support our weight; we often call on them to do a lot more, which is why they are the most often injured. Motions such as lifting or twisting are too often performed with the lower back as the primary power input or force creator, causing strain to the large muscles and ligaments which support the vertebrae in the lower back. 

The importance of the lumbar region

Besides the weight bearing duty, we also see a network of nerves known as the lumbar plexus that exit the spinal cord in the lumbar region and influence many critical functions of movement- namely the mechanics of the abdomen and legs. 

The most common reasons for lower back pain

  • Muscle strain- 
  • Disc herniation 
  • Disc degeneration
  • Bone spurs 
  • Breakdown of the cartilage
  • Facet joint syndrome

These conditions become more likely with age, as our lower backs begin to succumb to the compounded years of movement which we have put them through. The problem is also worsened when we don’t take care of our bodies, i.e. carrying around too much weight with weak supporting muscles, or executing movements without awareness of proper body mechanics. This is where we step in. 

How we make a difference at Hayes Family Chiropractic 

 Prevention is key: if you are in the fortunate position of owning a lower back that doesn’t give you too much grief, there is no better time than now to start strengthening it against the incursions of age. Through strengthening of the auxiliary muscles, application of good posture and proper body mechanics, we can ensure that the lower back has the greatest possible advantage. And if it is feeling under fire, we have modalities such as spinal adjustment, decompression and trigger point therapy that will help speed the recovery process and get you to a point where strengthening and moving forward is a real option. Give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 


Dynamic Stretching

dynamic stretch

Warming up the right way. 

At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we believe that exercise should be a fluid activity and this begins with the warm up. Rather than jolting your muscles into action with a quick warm up or no warm up at all, we want to focus on easing them into the swing of motion gently. Think of your muscles as being contracted when you initiate a work out: in order to loosen them up, we need to add heat. The best way to do this is by slowly raising your body temperature so that muscles naturally warm and loosen. This gives you optimal range of motion and prevents the kind of injury that occurs when you apply stress to an overly tight muscle.

Dynamic stretching is the right way to warm up. 

Dynamic stretching is the kind that combines momentum from movement with static-active stretching in order to transition your muscles from cold and contracted to warm and ready. Whether you are going to lift weights, play sports or pursue light cardiovascular exercise, this is the warm up that will activate all the muscles you will need during your work out. 

  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves coordination and overall performance
  • Boosts power
  • Helps muscles to contract and relax easier

Often, dynamic stretches include a standard stretch with a movement adjoined to it: for example, the lunge with a twist, or hip stretch with a twist. These are easily learned movements that ensure your body is primed and ready for the work out ahead.

Hayes Family Chiropractic is your resource for improving athletic performance. 

We support all of your athletic endeavors, and begin by addressing any physical limitations that may be holding you back. By ensuring the proper alignment of your spine, treating tense muscles and improving range of motion, we help your body stay in top physical shape. Give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

The Role of Posture in Headaches


Headaches are often a reflection of our lifestyle.

Work weeks can often fall into a pattern that varies to the individual but generally sees us waking up, commuting to work where we sit for hours on end, returning home for recreation in the evening, sleeping and repeating. Within this framework, physical and mental stress is constantly cycling and it requires hourly dedication to keep it in check. The demands of the workplace challenge our discipline when it comes to wellness-awareness: things like checking our posture, or getting outside for a breath of fresh air are neglected. This sets a dangerous precedent, whereby allowing stress to accumulate in the day can carry over into your non-work life to affect sleep, exercise and overall happiness. Headaches are a great example of this: if we leave work with a slight tension headache, it is easy to write them off as “normal” or “regular;” just a part of being an adult and going about our daily business. This is simply not true- the headache is a signal that something, somewhere is wrong and it is asking for you to fix it. 

Posture can play a direct role in the presence of headaches.

Even 2 hours in front of a computer screen is a fretful prospect for the spine, so 6-8 hours is simply monstrous. As the minutes slip by, we find it easier to slip into poor posture- our chins start inching toward the screen and the head follows; the upper back rounds and the shoulders start to creep up toward the ears. Any sense of balance has now been distorted as the head’s weight is now magnified in relation to the rest of the spine causing the neck and shoulder muscles to compensate to provide stability. This creates muscle spasms in the upper back, shoulders and neck that are referred to the nerves in your head and which you experience as a headache!

What to do about it?

Fixing your posture could go a long way toward solving the presence of chronic headaches. From our end, we can provide you with chiropractic adjustments which ensure that the spine is in a state of alignment and balance; provide trigger point relief for knotted and tense upper backs and offer massage therapies that relieve stress and encourage the healing process. From here it is a matter of training the right muscles that make posture easier- the core for a start and the upper back muscles that help stabilize the shoulders and neck. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

Posture in the Driver’s Seat

driving posture

What does your back look like when you are driving? 

Most of us probably couldn’t even see a mental picture. For many people commuting is a fleeting, sub-conscious activity and, by treating it as such, we rarely give our backs the attention to detail that they deserve during the drive. To begin with, car seats are hardly conducive to healthy posture and we often end up hunched over or forward; slouched with our arm on the center console; shoulders tight, creeping toward the ears. Even minor commutes with poor posture put unnecessary pressure on the spine, joints and muscles in the back.

How am I supposed to look?

  • Sitting up straight with butt touching the back of the seat
  • Chin level and head centered over the spine; often this means the head is touching the head rest gently. 
  • Hips square, keeping the base of the spine and pelvis aligned
  • Hands at 9/3. 

If you must sit for a daily commute, this is the kind of posture that distributes forces evenly and prevents muscular imbalance from accumulating over the course of the trip. A longer road trip obviously calls for some variety in position so listen to your muscles; if they become stiff or sore, you know that they are becoming wary of whatever posture you have been locked in for the last hour. It is always prudent to pull over and give your shoulders a shake or do some simple stretching so that you can stay loose during the trip. 

Posture is a specialty here at Hayes Family Chiropractic- we want to help you find good form with every activity that you do regularly. 

Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C. 

Why We Strive for Good Posture


Our problems with posture

Posture is hardly provocative; mentioning the word may be enough to make people sit up straight as they read it, but the attention span soon wanes and our heads instinctively lean toward the screen, like a fly to light, setting the tone for the rest of the body to follow up with poor posture. Below, I have identified the three most pressing problems that are likely to result from sitting excessively with poor posture. 

  • A compromised core
  • shortened hip flexors
  • Anterior pelvic tilt
  • Internally rotated shoulders 

These problems perpetuate each other; before we can address the question of shoulder stability, we should have some semblance of core stability, and this begins with stronger muscles!

Correcting posture right now?

If you just wanted to taste good posture for a moment so you can know what to strive for, try the following exercise:

  • Stand and flex the glutes
  • Flex the abs lightly and relax the glutes
  • Stand up tall and pull your shoulders back
  • Let your arms hang; in this position, the upper back should assume the responsibility for stabilizing the shoulders. 

For many of us, this will feel like a whole body stretch, but this is the standard to which we should strive. And it can be easily transposed onto a seated position. 

Making good posture second nature

We want to establish excellent posture as your baseline, especially if you are among the legions of workers who earn their daily bread by working at a desk. Having better posture life is about attitude: once we’ve brought it into the realm of consciousness, can we be proactive enough to maintain the muscles and positioning that makes us healthier? Keep in mind that posture is the basis of movement- you can effectively improve your life across the board with the knowledge and application of good posture; if you are interested in finding out more, give our office in Dunedin a call to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C. 

Tight Shoulders

back pain

Are you part of the growing population with a tight set of shoulders and if so what are you doing about it?

Chances are your trapezius is misfiring- that is, the upper trapezius is overactive while the middle and lower parts are under-active. This kind of disparity within the same muscle is problematic because it creates an imbalance that makes good posture hard to hold and increases the likelihood of pain and stiffness. 

The problem is cyclical in nature.

When you spend a day hunched over your computer with your head forward, the upper trapezius, which connects from the back of the head to the collar bone, is constantly contracted, pulling the shoulders up and inward to give you that hunched look that is so fashionable in the office. Your body is a creature of habit and as your muscles learn that this is the position you want your shoulders in, they oblige you; the middle and lower parts of the muscle are unable to assist with shoulder stabilization and articulation and they begin to weaken from lack of use. This shifts more burden onto the upper traps and you are left with stiff and sore shoulders. 

The problem is also muscular and mechanical in nature.

As we see it, with enough attention to the issue, you can remove your shoulders and upper back from the pattern of tightness that defines their daily existence. At our office in Dunedin, we provide you with chiropractic adjustment to maintain the alignment of the spine, thereby removing nerve irritation and improving range of motion. Trigger point therapy is effective for getting into knotted muscles and releasing the tension, allowing you to focus on strengthening and stretching without pain. Stop ignoring the pain and stiffness- it is your body telling you something needs to be fixed. And we are here to help; give our office a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Diane Hayes, D.C.