It is that time of year again, the darker nights are drawing in, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, the temperature is dropping and the Christmas paraphernalia is already in the shops; winter must be on its way. It may be gloomy outside but your outlook does not have to be. It is important that you keep those happy endorphins in check and a positive mood, why? because it can help you avoid things like gaining weight, low mood and tiredness. During the winter months some people produce higher than normal levels of melatonin, resulting in SAD symptoms (Seasonal Affective Disorder) such as sleepiness and low energy levels, so here are a few tips to help increase that feel good factor and improve your winter well-being
- Get your groove on – In winter it is easy to get home at the end of the day, put your comfies on, have a cup of tea and watch the TV, but don’t make it a habit for every evening. Put on those trainers and get moving. The effects of working out can last for several hours, you will have more energy and those feel good chemicals will be flowing. Winterise your workout, research shows that exercising outside can lift your spirits, but if you can’t get outside, go to the gym, if the gym doesn’t cut it for you, put on a workout DVD at home, or put the radio on and ‘just dance’ around.
- Eat your way upbeat – What you eat has a great effect on your mood and energy. Refined and processed foods (like white breads, rice, and sugar) are best avoided as they are not only devoid of the nutrients your body craves, but your energy levels can drop and in turn that can affect your mood, causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Eating more complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads, brown rice, fruit and vegtables will foods provide your body and mind with the good stuff that stabilises your blood sugar and your energy levels. Don’t forget to keep that all important water intake up.
- Real People not Virtual – Human interaction is essential to our mental well-being so forget Facebook, turn off Twitter and force yourself out and make some face to face connections. When you need a pick me up and feeling a bit down, contact a friend, something as simple as a walk or a catch up over coffee can lift the spirits and brighten the mood. It is also an opportunity to get out in the community and try something new, see what courses are on at the local college, take up a new activity or hobby.
- Take a Chill Pill – Life is busy, you feel like you wouldn’t look out of place at the circus, with everything you have to juggle and fit in. Everyone needs some time off and some me time. Try to spend a few minutes every day doing nothing. Relaxation in the form of yoga and meditation has huge benefits for mental well-being which can help alleviate the symptoms of low mood and depression. Having a treatment such as massage or reflexology can help the body, leaving it with a calm energy. If this is not for you just, sit quietly and read a book or magazine or listen to some relaxing music.
- See the light and Embrace the season – There is nothing we can do about the weather, it is what it is, so we can moan about it or embrace it. Sunlight provides us with the Vitamin D we need and it also helps our mood but because of the cold weather and shorter day people spend less time outdoors. Dress for the season and try and get more time outside, throw open those curtains to let the light in. Try to see the positives in the winter season, nice woollen scarves, open fires, hot toddies, crunchy leaves under foot, be mindful, look around and see the beauty in this season.