Winter is coming.
This means long dark days, bone tingling cold and winter blues. It is estimated that two million people in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter depression’. The symptoms which include low mood, irritability and fatigue tend to reach their peak between December and February.
Whilst moving to a climate that offers more sunshine exposure is an obvious solution, not everyone can take a holiday in Australia during the winter! However, below are 5 of the most practical and easy ways to make sure you are in good health this winter, both mentally and physically.
- Get active outdoors!
If outdoor activity could be sold as a drug, I think it would be worth billions!
There are proven benefits to exercising outside. Research has shown exercising outside improves mental well-being, self-esteem and can help with depression. This is really interesting because we often think of exercise as only being good for us physically.
It turns out that exercise can be just as good mentally and emotionally, and that getting outside and exercising amplifies the benefits.
If possible, make time for some exercise when it’s light outside or take a 20 minute walk during your lunch break. If you are concerned about not having the time and too much work, research shows taking regular breaks and exercising is more productive. So take that break and get outside, it’s a win win scenario!
‘Motivation is the result of action’
If the weather is cold and wet and can’t get motivated, remember that motivation is the result of action. You only get motivated once you put one foot in front of the other and step outside.
- Vitamin D supplement
According to the latest Diet and Nutrition survey, nearly a quarter of the UK population is deficient in vitamin D.
According to the World Health Organisation, Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a widespread public health problem globally but being more prevalent in places with limited sun exposure.
As vitamin D is limited fromfood sources, the best way to ensure adequate levels is to use a supplement. The NHS recommends 10mcg a day. However, be sure not to take more than 100mcg of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful, such as weaken bones and damage kidneys.
- Indulge in immune boosting foods
First off, staying hydrated is essential. It’s important to drink water before and after each meal to aid digestion which will make you feel better.
Moreover, drinking hot drinks such as herbal tea will make you feel warmer. My personal favourite is the Pukka Herbs teas which also have a strong ethical and environmental focus.
The food we consume also has a big role to play in how we feel over winter. One of the most important aspects is to count colours, not calories.
So eat the rainbow!
A wide variety of colours ensures you are getting a wide variety of nutrients. High nutrient dense foods I eat often include red cabbage, peppers, berries, potatoes and green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli.
- Get social
It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health. With Christmas just around the corner, going out can be expensive and therefore people are reluctant to arrange social events.
However, they say the best things in life are free.
You could go for a walk with or stay in and watch a film or play games, just as long as you spend time with other people and have fun!
- Become present in all that you do
Our lives have become consumed by screens and social media, it is hard to imagine how we lived without it. We scan our phones during every dull moment of our day and keep a hundred tabs open on our computers as we “multi-task” our way through the day.
Working hard and being exhausted is a status symbol.
Yet in reality all this is really doing is causing many people to become stressed and anxious. Science has shown that our human brains are not designed for multitasking and to be productive you should focus on one task at a time without distractions.
When’s the last time you actually did something without thinking about all the other things you think you have to do?
I have been trying to limit that amount of screen time and focus on one task at a time without distractions and am starting to reap the benefits.
So close all of those tabs. Get off social media. Focus on one task at a time.
Make sure to be present with the person you are with and give them your full attention. Tis the season for giving after all.
A great way to ensure you stave off the winter blues is to play a game of Rabble! Not only does it get you active and social, you can follow it up with a cup of hot tea and a chat afterwards.
You’ll be having such good fun playing games you will be present and forget all the other things you have to do. Just make sure to take your vitamin D supplement when you get home to eat your rainbow dinner 🙂