Well winter is finally here and if you’re anything like me you’re already pining for those long warm evenings, beer gardens and bare legs. As the nights draw in (though the lack of sunlight I get working in a basement means it could be dark all day for all I know!) I suddenly find that only mashed potato and hot chocolate will do. (not together!) Personally I’d love it if I could spend all Autumn getting fat, have a massive sleep and then wake up skinny and refreshed in time for summer… sadly hibernation isn’t possible so I’ve found some ways to beat the winter blues.
One of the main reasons we get seasonal depression is due to the decrease in the amount of light we get. Light triggers messages to a part of the brain called the ‘hypothalamus’ (No relation to the animal haha) This part controls sleep, mood, libido and appetite so a decrease in light has an impact of how effectively the brain manages these functions – i.e. we’re moodier, sadder, sleepier, ‘hungrier’ and less sexier. Brilliant.
So, what can we all do to try and put a bit of spring in our booted feet? Although these may not get your leaping out of bed at 7am in the same way you can in July – I hope that’ll at least help make climbing out from under the duvet a little easier (and maybe I can put that potato masher down.)
- Run around a bit – One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to get more light! There are recommendations a plenty about light boxes but much as I’d love to splash some cash on a giant light bulb it’s not a financially viable solution, so the next best thing is to get outside more. Combine this with some exercise and you’ll not only be getting the most of the light (and stopping any sort of Vitamin D deficiency!) but exercise is famously as effective a treatment of depression as antidepressants. Gotta love those natural endorphins. (If the thought of jogging in your lunch break is pretty replusive, like me, you could always go for a wander at lunch and take some other form of exercise later to get the same effect. This lady loves lunchtime yoga)
- Put a B in it! Vitamin B to be precise – needed in the body for energy. B6 boosts the neurotransmitters in your brain-box needed for mood balancing. Fantastic feel good foods rich in B6 include sweet potatoes, eggs (also a egg-cellent source of Vitamin D), fish and avocado (these last two will also give you lovely shiney hair too, cause you’re worth it.) Also in this category are bananas, blueberries, brown rice and beef. Beginning with B and also excellent for turning that frown upside down by increasing seratonin. Lean red meat is one of the best sources of protein which stops energy levels from crashing causing you to reach for that biscuit tin.
- Have a cup of zen – Consider swapping your regular cup of joe to green tea. Yes coffee gives you that kick up the bum in the morning but it can also lead to anxiety, muscle tension and er… gut issues apparently! Research shows that green tea can help as an antidepressant and it’s also thought to boost your metabolism (anything to stop a potato pot belly!)
Give it a go – look how chilled out she looks!
- Pop a pill – St.John’s Wort, Tyrosine and 5-HTP are all natural supplements which lift your mood. Cod-liver oils will not only give you lovely lubricated joints but they’re also a dose of Vitamin D when the sun’s not.
- Get zesty – Researcher have found that just the smell of oranges can give you a pep. Citrus fruit are also famously full of Vitamin C which can ward off winter colds – which can only be a good thing cause, lets be honest, who feels sexy with a cold?!
- Have a laugh – if you’re feeling blue get out and socialise. Socialising releases endophines and scientists have found that those who laugh more live longer! (click here to see more benefits of laughter and what happened when I tried laughter yoga)
- Jump on a flight – Nothing really is as good as some genuine sunshine so if funds allow, book yourself a winter holiday. Not only will it give you something to look forward to but you will reap the health benefits of the extra light, (you lucky things – only London lunchtime walks for me sadly.)
So there you have it – no need to go into hibernation just yet. Let me know if you have any other tips for getting me out of the house, circus class is definitely next on the list.
I should say however if you are suffering from winter seasonal disorder of a more serious nature you should consult your GP and don’t suffer in silence.
Good to hear from you as always.