So, winter is nearly here, not everyone is a fan of getting up in the dark, being cold and then those long dark evenings. It can make you feel tired and lethargic compared to the bright and warm summer months. But it might be that you look forward to those cosy winter evenings, huddled around the log fire and splashing in the puddles in the rain.
Whether you look forward to it or not, hears some hints and tips on how to make the most of the next few months.
Grab any sunshine that you can!
Try to get out of the house as much as possible. Natural light really does help to lift the mood and if it’s a sunny day even better! Even if it’s 10 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, a bit of gardening or, a stroll around in your lunch hour it will help you to get a shot of vitamin D which we can lack in the winter months. It also contributes as physical activity so it’s good for our physical health as well as our mental health.
Trouble getting up in the morning?
Try using an alarm clock that gradually increases the light in your bedroom, so by the time the alarm goes off you think its light outside, it makes it easier to get up in the morning.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
12 million people in the UK and Northern Europe suffer from SAD which is Seasonal Affective Disorder. This can really have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing leading to chronic fatigue and depression. It can make you want to sleep more and to over-eat, especially carbs which can then lead to weight gain. You may also feel irritable and can’t be bothered to socialise with friends or family.
The reason that some people suffer from SAD is thought to be because of the decrease in the level of sunlight which can disrupt your body’s internal clock causing depression. There is also a decrease in serotonin levels, a brain chemical which affects our mood and also causes a disruption in melatonin levels which affects our sleep pattern and moods.
If you recognise any of these symptoms you could try using a light box. Light therapy is effective for 85% of SAD sufferers. It may mean that you have to sit in front of a light box for two hours a day but if it works, it’s worth it, but, it’s not available on the NHS and can cost around £100. There is a support group called SADA which is the only registered charity for SAD or you should See a GP if your symptoms are so bad that they affect your life.
Exercise really does help. Exercise helps to improve the mood, keep weight to a healthy level and your immune system working well which we all need now, more than ever, what with the usual winter coughs and colds going around at this time of the year but now added to this, COVID -19 which still a real threat.
It is also social; although we have to keep our distance from others, we can still chat and have a giggle with our friends in the gym, studio sessions, swimming, going for a walk or whatever your preference is. Lockdown has taught us that we need social interaction, it was pretty lonely when we couldn’t have it wasn’t it?
It is very tempting to want to comfort eat our way through the winter, but we then feel more miserable because the waistline expands and we gain weight. Hot food will make you feel comforted but it doesn’t have to be high in calories and saturated or trans fats. To start the day porridge is a great choice!
Include food with vitamin D which helps improve the mood. Mushrooms are great for this; did you know that if you leave them on a windowsill before you cook them they absorb more vitamin D? No? Well, you do now! Eggs and seafood are also rich in Vitamin D.
Eat a well-balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, unsalted nuts, grain and seeds, fish, meat with the visible fat removed and poultry without the skin, tofu and plant-based foods to make delicious chillies, stews, casseroles and stir fry’s that will keep you warm and nourished and give you energy.
It’s November, the winter has us for a few months yet. Time flies and it won’t be long before we’re moaning it’s too hot! We can do this…!!!