Are You feeling blue this winter?

If the winter weather has you feeling down and even downright depressed, you may suffer from SAD, also known as, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD is a type of depression. Symptoms of it include oversleeping or having problems with sleep, losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and other signs of depression. What makes SAD different from depression is that it usually occurs from late fall through the winter and the depression is not felt during the summer months.

It is believed that the darker time of year leads to less sun exposure which causes disruptions in the circadian rhythms that tells us when it is time to be asleep and time to be awake. Exposure to sunlight also helps us create serotonin which is a “feel good” hormone.  Serotonin is also a hormone that  converts to melatonin which is necessary to help us sleep at night. Of course, no one feels well when they are tired and having disrupted sleep often contribute to the problem.

Anti-depressants may be prescribed to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder but anti-depressants come with a price. Many anti-depressants work by recycling the serotonin which results in the body making less serotonin because it thinks that levels are sufficient. This leads to more sleep issues, weight gain, and a lack of enjoyment in life or, as more than one of my clients has described it, “feeling flat.”

Many people prefer to go with a more natural approach to dealing with SAD. Some suggestions are:

  • Going for a walk in the morning to absorb as much natural light as possible.
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Many people crave carbohydrates and sweets during this time of year but those foods drain energy and make the situation worse.
  • Exercise for at least 15 minutes every day. This could be gentle stretching when you first get out of bed followed by that walk that was mentioned earlier. Any time you move your body, your mood will improve. It could be something as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot and walking further to run your errands.
  • If you regularly participate in activities, continue to do so. Connecting to others makes us feel happier and more confident.
  • Make use of light therapy. A full-spectrum light is a light that is about 20 times brighter than room lighting and, when you are exposed to it for 15 to 30 minutes a day, it can help with the symptoms of SAD.
  • Limiting the amount of time spent on technology. Computers, e-readers, cell phones, televisions and other forms of electronics emit positive ions that contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.  Authentic Himalayan salt lamps reduce the effects of positive ions because they are naturally dehydrated sea water and, like the ocean, emit negative ions. I encourage my clients to have salt lamps at their work stations as well as rooms that they frequent in their homes.

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? How do you manage it?

Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach is the owner of Just Breathe, a salt room in Westborough, MA and helps people with chronic health conditions through lifestyle changes.  Just Breathe offers light therapy, as well as salt room sessions where people can experience the effect of negative ions emitted from a beautiful Himalayan salt wall. Ask about a SAD package.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), (2017, Oct.25). Retrieved 24 January 2019, from

C.J. Harmer, M. Charles, S. McTavish, E. Favaron, and P.J. Cowen. (2012 August) . Negative ion treatment increases positive emotional processing in seasonal affective disorder. Psychological Medicine. Retrieved from

Thai Massage now at Just breathe

One of the best parts of owning a wellness center is learning about all sorts of alternative therapies and having an opportunity to try them out so that I can share the experience with my community.

Marline is one of the newest practitioners and will be working at Just Breathe on Saturdays offering a wonderful blend of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, and Thai Massage. Not knowing what Thai Massage is, I asked and was told it was “lazy man’s yoga.” Being curious, I signed up for a session.

Thai Massage is done on a mat on the floor. You are fully clothed so it is perfect for those who do not like to get undressed  or covered in oils. Marline started by rubbing and stretching my feet and, as I told her, anytime anyone wants to rub my feet, it is a good day.

She then pressed on my legs and proceeded to move my body into positions that I am familiar with from my yoga classes. She put me in a tree pose and stretched and opened my hips. Later in the massage, I was laying on my stomach and she gently pulled me into a very delicious back bend. It was far enough that I could feel my body stretch but never did she do anything that caused me discomfort or pain.

Something that surprised me was that she didn’t use just her hands but incorporated various parts of her body in stretching and manipulating my body including her elbows, knees, and even her feet. I felt relaxed and mellow after the massage but I think Marline got a good workout in.

Thai massage is great for reducing muscle soreness, increasing the range of motion and flexibility, improving circulation and lymphatic flow, improving posture, and reducing emotional stress and tension.

Marline is a Licensed Massage Therapist and a graduate of the Bancroft School of Massage in Worcester. She is also the mother to two young boys and recognizes how difficult it is for mother’s to find time for self-care. It is her vision to support and encourage women to not only make time for self-care but also to help them pay close attention to what their bodies are telling them which is why Marline is a perfect fit at Just Breathe.

Marline will also be offering Thai Reflexology in the Salt Room with Francesca at special events coming up soon including a special date night with or without your Honey on February 16th at 4 pm.

You may book an appointment with Marline by calling Just Breathe at 508-366-8292. Follow it up with a relaxing session in the Salt Room. You won’t be sorry!

A Tip to Survive the Holidays

Does getting invited to a holiday party put you into a cold sweat after all the hard work you have done to lose weight?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

The big focus of any party or gathering is getting to spend time with friends or families but there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the food. Take the time to scan the offerings and decide what you truly want to enjoy. Maybe it’s Grandma’s apple pie or a piece of your friend’s fudge. Whatever it may be, remember the “Three Bite Rule.”

Why 3 bites?

The first bite is going to be as enjoyable as you think it is going to be.

The second bite is still wonderful but not as wonderful as the first bite.

By the third bite, you have enjoyed the food as much as you are going to.

It is time to set it aside and hit the dance floor or visit with a friend.

Don’t be afraid of this time of year! Get out and enjoy yourself and please share with the community how you enjoy the holidays.

And if you do find yourself struggling with a sugar addiction this Holiday Season be sure to join our “Beat the Sugar Blues” challenge starting on January 16th. This is a 3 week program designed to get sugar out of your diet and start eating healthy again.

How Can We Help You?

Just Breathe is much more than a salt room. It is a community. A community of people who want to be and stay healthy and understand that doing so involves so much more than visiting the doctor for a yearly check-up. The people in this community do not define themselves by their symptoms and while some do identify with a diagnosis, many chose not to. At the end of the day, a diagnosis is just a group of symptoms that have a label put on them and symptoms are your body’s way of communicating to you that there is something wrong.

Continue reading How Can We Help You?

Who Can Benefit from Energy Healing?

Do you have a chronic physical or emotional problem that is not finding resolution through regular medical treatment? Energy healing may be the solution that you are looking for.

Bodies function through electrical current. Electrons, which are the same particles that make electricity work, allow our bodies to function properly.

Energy work is similar to being recharged, much as you would recharge a battery.

Continue reading Who Can Benefit from Energy Healing?

Ear Candling – I Tried It

When I first opened Just Breathe, I hear about a lot of holistic and alternative practices. One of the things that I had heard about over a year ago was ear coning or candling. Being someone that had grown up on Cape Cod and been told as a young child that I “had lobsters in my ear,” which was my pediatrician’s polite way of saying I had a lot of wax build up, I was intrigued by the idea of having that wax removed and finding out what it feels like to actually hear.

Then I met Anastasia. Anastasia is a healer who practices ear candling.

I decided that I wanted to get this treatment and signed up for a session with her. The results were incredible!

Continue reading Ear Candling – I Tried It