Hands up if you’ve got a case of the winter blues right now. Perhaps you’re not feeling your usual, sparkly self. The pep in your step isn’t so peppy these days – and the thought of curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and your warmest pyjamas seems to speak to your soul. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, it’s normal to feel a little down and demotivated. In fact, in some (extreme) cases individuals may be diagnosed with ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD) – where the development of depressive type symptoms can be linked to the changing weather. So, what can you do to bring a little sunshine to your life?
Get off the couch and get moving
Whilst there’s no denying that, yes, the couch is comfortable, and yes, it’s cold outside – getting up and getting moving is a sure-fire way to shake off the cobwebs in both the body and the mind. You don’t need to sign up for a marathon – rug up for a walk around the block to get the blood pumping, to get some fresh air in your lungs, and importantly, enjoy a moment in the natural world. Even for inner-city dwellers, studies have shown that time spent outdoors can make a big difference both physiologically and psychologically.
If you really can’t face the thought of the outdoors, there are still plenty of indoor exercise that you can do. Hit up the gym, or perhaps you take up swimming at the local indoor pool. This writer’s favourite winter exercise is hot yoga which ticks all the boxes – gets you off the couch and into your local studio, gets you moving, and the heated studio certainly gets you sweating!
Choose an activity that makes the body and mind feel good and stick to it – as the saying goes, you’ll only regret a workout that you don’t do.
Get a little sun
Whilst it may be hard to find, a few moments of sun during the year’s coldest months can make all the difference to your mental health. Your mood is significantly affected by two hormones in the body – melatonin (the hormone associated with sleep) and serotonin (the hormone associated with wakefulness), plus the amount of sunlight exposure you receive. In periods where you’re exposed to less daylight, your melatonin levels naturally increase – hence why you may feel more tired and sluggish in winter. The more daylight you’re exposed to, more your serotonin levels increase – explaining why you may feel as though you have more energy and zest for life in summer. If you spot a little sun on the horizon, make an effort to head outside. A few minutes sunlight on your face and the back of your hands can help regulate your body’s sleep / wake hormones and can also remind you of brighter days ahead.
Connection is key
It can be easy to wallow in the winter blues when the weather isn’t conducive to heading out and socialising. Whilst picnics and alfresco catch ups might be rain-checked until spring, it’s important to maintain a sense of connection and community through winter to keep you smiling. Make an effort to reach out to your friends regularly – call, text, email, FaceTime or Zoom. Even better, recruit your friends to join in your regular exercise. Head out for a brisk walk and a chat, or perhaps it’s a gym session together. Keeping in touch with others not only benefits you, but don’t forget you’ll also bring a smile to their face too 😊.
Self-care for a better tomorrow
If you’re struggling to shake off the sads, why not do something to help you have a better tomorrow? Cook yourself a nourishing meal – loaded with heaps of colourful vegetables and wonderful spices, to deliver on both the taste and nutrition fronts. Soups, stews and curries all lend themselves well to being packed with a huge range of vegetables, as well as wholegrains – which we know pack a nutritional punch. Perhaps it’s a warm shower and a face masks for a little at-home pampering. Maybe you take a mindful moment to journal your feelings, or sit in meditation. Knowing what works best for you when you’re not feeling your sparkly self can help you turn your frown upside down quick smart.
Of course, you know yourself better than anyone else. If you suspect that you may be suffering from more than the winter blues, consult your health care professional as soon as you can.
How to you stay happy and healthy in the winter months? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page which you can find here.
Intended as general advice only. Please consult your health care provider to discuss any specific concerns.