Five ways to beat the winter blues

Five ways to beat the winter blues

As we face increasingly short dark days energy and mood often take a nosedive. Patsy Westcott explores some ways to get back your zest.

As we face increasingly short, dark days, energy and mood often take a nosedive. Patsy Westcott explores some ways to get your zest back.

It’s the time of year when the clocks do their ‘fall back’ thing and energy levels and mood go into freefall.

You might not suffer from something as drastic as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but the ‘winter blues’ can be a common problem. If you find yourself having an increasing urge to ‘hide’ under the duvet, take comfort in too many stodgy foods, lose your lust for a social life or just feel that life seems to have lost its shine, read on…

Five ways to rediscover your oomph!

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to kickstart those winter energy levels and keep the blues at bay. Here’s five worth a try:

  1. Get tangoed
    A 2012 study found that Argentine tango was as effective as mindfulness meditation in reducing stress and depression. The reason? Regular exercise can improve energy levels, relieve stress and help boost mood. No tango class near you? I find salsa and Charleston irrepressibly uplifting too.

  2. Try something different
    A new hobby, especially one that brings you into contact with others will engage your brain and can do wonders for mood. Think of easy get-togethers like bridge, walking, a knitting group, a supper club.

  3. Eat right
    Nurture your body with a healthy diet with plenty of protein, fresh veg and fruit and unprocessed foods. Go for warming soups and stews that you can put in a crockpot and leave to do their own thing. Include some oily fish – think baked salmon, herrings in oatmeal, sardines on toast – for vitamin D, low levels of which may contribute to the winter blues and SAD, plus a range of other vital nutrients.

  4. Lighten up
    Sitting in front of a ‘light box’, a device which emits full spectrum light similar to sunlight, eases symptoms for many. Why? Bright light stimulates the brain increasing mood and alertness. Try Lumie (lumie.com) for a range of light boxes and dawn simulator alarm clocks, which wake you gradually with increasing light to create a ‘false dawn’.

  5. Embrace the season
    Can’t motivate yourself to go out? Stay in then. But take a leaf from the Danes and make your home a haven of calm and warmth with cosy throws, sheepskin rugs, wood-burning stoves, tealights, and lots of time with family and loved ones. It’s all part of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) and may be part of the reason why - despite long, cold, dark winters - the Danes consistently top happiness polls.

Can’t shake the blues?

If simple self-help measures don’t work you could be suffering more serious SAD. See your GP.

The following organisations can also offer help:

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Staying well in winter

Hopegirl 15/12/2016

I love learning more about hygge- I;'ve always been a homebird but sometimes feel that I've got to keep busy - this has made me realise that I should enjoy my home more. Rest is so important for staying well, especially at this time of year.

Keep Occupied

David 27/11/2016

Exercise is so good in releasing endorphins which stimulate your whole body and makes you feel better, whether that be walking, cycling or whatever exercise you can manage. I have done some sort of exercise for close on 61 years and I know it has helped me through some difficult times. I also strongly recommend a healthy balanced diet that suits you and your wellbeingand don't be scared to have a treat now and again when you are feeling low whatever that might be.

Vitamin D

OnlyMe1 23/11/2016

Don't encourage people to stay in! There's an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency in this country and people need to be encouraged to get out, no matter what the weather, for at least 10 minutes a day. I love walking my dogs, in all weathers, and taking photos of where we walk, 20 minutes almost every day. No winter blues for me! As for tangoing, how about something for those of us less able to do something like that? I have spinal problems, pain prevents anything strenuous.

Good advice

22/11/2016

Great advice there but panicked when I first read 'get tangoed' as I had visions of a really bad spray tan - hence the tangoed! lol I always try to smile regardless of how I'm feeling inside and its amazing how many you can have returned in a day 😀

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