For the last few hours I’ve been on an train bound for London. On my relatively short journey I’ve witnessed all types of weather – fog, wind, rain and lastly the bright sun – as the train makes it way stop to stop. This reminded me that we are getting closer to the shortest day of the year over in this part of the world, which in the UK means sunsets before 4 pm. Whilst the winter doesn’t really affect me, like I’ve seen it affect close friends of mine* I am partial to feeling a little de-energized in the colder months. Still it doesn’t get me very far only dreaming of sunny beaches, so here’s what I physically do to help combat my winter blues:
Do Exercise – I have concluded that people who do not like exercise are basically screwed. Exercise is the answer to many of life’s niggles… want to lose weight do exercise, want to relieve stress do exercise, want to feel healthy do exercise, want flat abs do exercise, want to beat the winter blues do exercise. The feel good effect of a workout lasts for hours so it is well worth doing some kind of exercise in the cooler months. Come winter my body for some reason wants me to run, something I don’t do often in the other seasons. So at least once or twice week I will get up before the sun has even risen (less traffic) and run – totally nuts I know but I feel driven to do it and while I usually curse nonstop as I start, once my body warms up I love it. You don’t have to be nuts like me even just getting out in the (fresh) air will rejuvenate you and make your body feel happy.
Eat mood enhancing food/brain food – I’ve stolen both these terms but basically they mean eat less processed food (breads, rice and sugar) because they sap your energy and more fresh vegetables and fruit and healthier options like brown rice, whole wheat bread, lean meats. It is hard to keep this up especially as it is the festive season and there is copious amounts of alcohol being drunk. Keep up the water intake and try my version of a healthy smoothie.
Drink Tea – When in England… drink tea right? Only I actually believe tea helps enhance my mood. For a pick me up I prefer ginger tea with a slice of lemon because I like the taste, and it has the added bonus in that it is packed with antioxidants so greatly helps improve the immune system (Chamomile tea has a similar benefit).
Go outside or Open the window – The cold weather means we generally spend less time outdoors. I’m sure you already know that sunlight provides you with much needed Vitamin D. Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed, and they don’t necessary know why they feel this way*. Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases serotonin
(neurotransmitters) in the brain that affect one’s mood so go outdoors in natural daylight or if that is not an option open the windows or sit near them.
Take Vitamins – As mentioned vitamin D is linked with the sun which is why it becomes the must take vitamin to take in winter months in conjunction with healthy eating. Benefits of Vitamin D: Helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which are needed to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. It also supports the function of the immune system, the maintenance of normal muscle function and cell growth. I also take Omega 3 (fish oil) as recommended to me by my mother. Benefits of Omega 3: Gives the immune system a boost by stimulating the activity of white blood cells that attack bacteria and as a bonus, it does wonders for dry winter skin so you get an in and out glow. Vitamin C, Elderberry, Zinc, Vitamin B12 all help with overall health as well.
Together these actions along with planning my next holiday never fail to kick me out of the doldrums Can you relate? What do you do to beat your winter blues?
*I wasn’t aware that seasons can actually play a role on one’s mood until I came to the UK. I think growing up in Wellington (NZ) where weather can be unpredictable often tempestuous all year round I grew up basically ignoring it as I went about my day (hair be damned). However I have seen the effects winter has on people over here and can see how destructive it can be. If you feel you suffer from symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) http://www.sad.org.uk you should consult your GP who will refer you to a specialist.