Winter is coming and with it the blues, eating our feelings and an inch of dust to settle on our gym membership cards, long forgotten.
Most of us spend the dregs of summer and autumn dreading winter. In fact, Brenda in Accounts has probably been moaning about it since June, while you eye the stapler on your desk in a new light – useful office stationary or weapon against the Harbinger of Bad Winter Vibes herself.
What Brenda doesn’t know though, is that there is a foolproof way to tackle the blues head-on, and we’re about to give you the inside track.
A wise woman once said; “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.” And she was right.
Endorphins are the feel-good hormone and as the seasons change and the weather starts to bite, they are exactly what you need.
If you can’t bear the thought of going to the gym after work, opt for something a little calmer: try walking part (or all) of the way home. Put in those headphones, crank up the happy beats and drink in the world around you. Not only will your body be zipping with endorphins but you’ll also be giving yourself some time to decompress – which is essential if you live a busy life.
If you’re a parent, who needs to rush home to sort out your children, try some simple floor exercises and stretches once you’ve put them down for the night. You need time for you too.
According to the researchers at the Royal College of Psychologists, we should be maximising exposure to natural light from the moment of waking up. You could try sleeping with open curtains and moving your bed to the window to absorb the early morning sunshine or alternatively, make sure you’re using your lunchbreak to get out into natural light. Points for effort if it’s raining!
If having your weekday fix is hard, make sure you’re getting out and about at the weekend. For city dwellers, take a light seeking adventure into nearby countryside or parks and immerse yourself in nature.
There’s also nothing like filling your lungs with fresh air to improve your mood.
A fantastic and easy way to combat the blues is with your diet and when it comes to mood altering ingredients, the one you won’t find on the back of the packet is the one you need: L-tryptophan.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid which is used by your body to produce niacin a vitamin vital to your skin, nerves and digestion and serotonin, your very own mood stabiliser.
Aside from improving your mood, L-tryptophan is also an incredibly important to your sleep wake cycle. If you want to wake up after a refreshing night’s sleep and ready to tackle the day start incorporating the following foods into your diet: nuts, seeds, red meat, eggs, turkey, fish, lentils, oats and beans.
Research has linked less sunlight in winter to the disruption of our circadian rhythm (our 24-hour body clock). The abrupt change in our circadian rhythm in turn throws off our sleeping pattern which can leave us feeling over-tired, craving comfort food and blue. Fortunately, there is a way to help combat this!
We’re not just sleep experts, we’re sleep enthusiasts and advocate and we know what good it does for the mind and the body. Arm yourself with a healthy sleep routine by establishing sleep and wake times that allow you to get all the rest you need. Seven to nine hours is optimal amount for waking feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
This section we will keep short and sweet: be kind to yourself.
These coming months are not a time to punish yourself for comfort food eating or missed gym appointments. Stay warm, stay happy and while you’re running around socialising in the run-up to the holidays, make sure you’re making time for yourself.
Whilst the winter blues affect most of us to some degree, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be a more dilapidating offset of these darker, longer nights. SAD fully recognised by health professionals and if you are particularly struggling with your mental and physical wellbeing during the winter months we encourage you to visit your GP to get any support you may need.