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5 ways to beat the Winter blues

You’re thinking you’ve made it through January, you’ve had the post Christmas energy slump and the financial hangover yet heading into February you still feel well below average. Don’t worry you are not alone, in fact around two million people in the UK and over 12 million people across Europe are thought to have ‘the winter blues’ 


This can result in a depressed mood characterised by low energy, trouble finding motivation, sadness, tiredness, a lack of joy and trouble seeing the lighter side of life.

You may be sleeping more, feeling like you are gaining weight, you might feel sluggish with fluctuations in your appetite often reaching for comfort foods or sweet treats to give you a lift. 


Everyone’s situation is individual, however there are also biological reasons including fewer daylight hours, dreary cold weather, lack of time outdoors plus external life pressures that all contribute. Think about it, you get up in the dark, you may commute to work in the dark, you may have little or no light in your office, you leave work in the dark having seen very little daylight the entire day! This can affect even the most upbeat of people at times. 


Be kind to yourself and understand you are normal to have these feelings with many people experiencing the same. The positive news is these feelings are often only temporary and you can take measures to try to combat the blues in order to support yourself until you emerge into the Spring.


Here are some practical tips to help support you in the weeks ahead, set yourself a small action of selecting one from the list to implement at least twice a week. Start really small and be realistic which is more likely to lead to success. Better still add the action onto an existing habit to habit stack which will make it much easier to establish:


Sleep hygiene

Sleep is a huge component of health and therefore your mood. To ensure you are getting enough quality sleep for you, work to improve your sleeping environment with a darkened, decluttered room, a consistent bedtime routine, mindfulness or a good book. Try to avoid blue light from your phone or i pad for half an hour before bed which can be overstimulating and soften the lighting to encourage production of the sleep hormone melatonin. In addition try to keep a consistent wake up time and expose yourself to light when you can which supports your circadian rhythm, the most important one being the sleep wake cycle.


Natural daylight

The dark Winter months can leave us lacking in daylight and therefore Vitamin D which we get from sunlight. This can decrease our happiness and leave us feeling low. Exposure to natural light increases serotonin in our brain which is our happy hormone and walking outside has been scientifically proven to lift our mood. A twenty minute walk outside in daylight can affect our mood positively for at least two hours after. Make it social and meet a mate while doing so or encourage a work colleague to walk with you during your lunch break.


Be social

Connection is one of our basic human needs. Arrange to spend time with family or friends which can improve your mood. Even if you really don’t feel like it, commit to going for a small amount of time and that step alone could help you to feel more positive and less alone. Being connected to others is what can give you energy and make you feel alive!


Eat well

When we are tired and a bit low we can reach for the sugary snacks to give us a boost, which inevitably leads to a sugar crash later and the cycle starts again. Try to eat less processed foods and refined carbohydrates like shop bought baked goods, chocolate, biscuits, ready meals and sauces. 


Try eating more whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and up your protein levels to keep your glucose levels balanced to avoid cravings such as meat, fish, legumes. Processed foods can put our bodies under stress biologically so tweaking your intake to include less of them, will be a real bonus. Start small and try replacing two meals a week with home cooked meals instead.


Move more

When we move, we boost mood and decrease stress by releasing endorphins which are our feel good hormones. Regular movement has also been proven to improve self esteem. So have a think about what movement could work for you be it a simple walk with a mate, an online yoga class, a swim at your local pool or a group activity in your local area. 


By incorporating some of the tips above over the coming months, you can improve your mental health and physical wellbeing leaving you less ‘blue’ and more upbeat about the year to come. Let’s look forward to the year ahead, Spring is just around the corner!


References


If you need support with your health goals and you feel stuck, overwhelmed, lacking in motivation, tired, low in energy, perimenopausal or menopausal I can help. I'm a mindset & behaviour change coach specialising in wellness & menopause. I would love to support you so please email me antonia@healthyhabitslife.co.uk or book an exploratory consultation by visiting this link. I would LOVE to hear from you.



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