You versus the winter blues

It’s that time of year again. The nights are getting longer, the mornings darker and summer starts feeling like a distant memory. But the colder weather is no reason to let the winter blues creep in. Here’s some good habits to get into to stay happy and positive in the coming weeks and months:

1 — Leave the running shoes on

It can be harder to get motivated to exercise when it’s cold outside but staying active is one of the most effective ways of staying mentally well during the autumn and winter months.

Even exercising for just 15 minutes a day can give your body a much-needed serotonin boost, helping your brain regulate your mood, appetite and sleep patterns. The time of day you exercise can be key too. To get the most ‘bang for your buck’ try and get out to exercise during the day, when you’ll get an additional serotonin boost from the natural daylight your body will absorb

2 — Don’t start pigging out

When the weather is miserable outside its really easy to find yourself slouched on the coach getting into some bad food habits. Eating too many bad carbs (things like pizzas, burgers and biscuits) can give you a short-term buzz, but it’s always followed by a slump. It can also mean putting on some hard-to-shift weight, which can make your feel even more down and sluggish. 

Instead try and fill your diet with plenty of oily fish, seasonal veg and pulses and grains to get all the vitamins, fibre and potassium you need to keep your body and mind healthy

3 — Avoid hibernating

Spending time with friends is easy in the summer months. Whether it’s drinks in a beer garden or enjoying a BBQ in your back garden, everyone feels more like being sociable when the sun’s out.

But you don’t need good weather to get together with mates.  Rather than hibernate at home, adopt a ‘yes’ policy…. accept invitations to meet up with family and friends whenever you get them.  It’s amazing how quickly socialising becomes a healthy habit and it’s proven your mental wellbeing will be all the better for it.

4 — Get some light

Sunlight provides our bodies with much needed vitamin D, which in turn encourages our bodies to produce serotonin – the happy hormone. Being outside socialising or exercising is a great way for our bodies to get vitamin D, but in the shorter winter days it can be hard to get as much as we need.

Because of this, more and more people are turning to lightboxes to get their daily serotonin fix. Lightboxes tend to be up to 20 times brighter than normal indoor lights and are recommended to be used for 30mins every day – preferably in the morning – to get the right amount of vitamin D to set you up for the day.

5 — Get out of bed

When the mornings get cold and dark, it’s tempting to put off getting out of bed until the last possible moment and to enjoy a few more minutes hitting the snooze button. But the lie-ins can be really disruptive to getting the good quality sleep your brain needs.

Try and work out a daily sleep routine that means you’re getting 7 hours of quality sleep every day. Making sure you’re feeling relaxed and ready to fall asleep when you go to bed is critical too, so try and avoid exercise, caffeine and too much tech close to bedtime.

By following these tips, you’ll be giving yourself a good basis for a winter blues free winter.  But if you’re really struggling with feelings of depression, then we recommend you go and see your GP as soon as possible.