During the long, cold and dark winter months it is thought that around 2 million people in the UK are affected by the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. It can feel like everything is against you and all you want to do is stay indoors and eat comfort food. And while for some people the only solution may be medical help for plenty of others there are some simple lifestyle choices that can stop you from being depressed and help with your symptoms. Let’s look at the best tips for helping to beat the winter blues.
Increasing your exercise
Exercise really does help us to feel happier by boosting our endorphin levels and brightening our mood. Outdoor exercise is best when it comes to the winter blues so it is worthwhile investing in some good quality warm clothing to keep you outdoors. From running and cycling to skiing and surfing, there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy in the winter to boost your exercise levels.
Also why not think about joining a team or club, there are plenty of these around and they will help you stay motivated during the winter months and take part in a new sport.
A healthy diet is one of the fundamental building blocks of a healthy lifestyle and can help boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over the winter months. You’ll want to make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable which will help keep you fuller for longer while also cutting down on carbohydrates.
After exercising don’t forget to replenish your body with a post workout meal that is high in protein, or alternatively try a protein shake.
Yep getting plenty of sleep really does make a difference. It’s also a great excuse to curl up in bed nice and early and sleep late at the weekend. Every person is different but guidelines suggest that during the winter months you should be looking to get at least 8 hours sleep a night. Try cutting down on watching television and using devices such as phones or tablets in the run up to bedtime as these can have a negative impact on your sleep.
Taking a stroll
This is perhaps one of the simplest tips of all. Just get out and go for a walk. Taking a 30 minute walk each day will help to lower your stress levels, improve your mood and get you outside into the light. Whether you choose to stroll on your own or go for a walk with friends or colleagues is up to you. Make sure you wrap up warm when it is cold and if it is raining heavily you could always give it a miss until the next day.
Cutting down on alcohol
With so many temptations it can be easy to get carried away during the festive season and drink too much alcohol, especially if you’re feeling depressed. However you need to be aware that drinking can make the winter blues worse. Not only does alcohol affect your sleep but it can also act as a depressant which can bring your mood down and make you feel worse. Of course everyone loves to have a drink now and then but just remember not to overdo it and stay within your weekly guidelines.
Plan a holiday
Everyone loves planning a holiday as it gives you something fun and exciting to look forward to. Whether you’re going away for some winter sun, planning a trip to see friends abroad, or your family summer holiday, just looking at holiday destinations is a great way to improve your mood. It helps you visualise the summer months and gets you looking forward beyond the cold winter months.