So winter is coming. The days are shorter, the weather is getting colder and the run up to Christmas is often manic. Do you sometimes find the winter months more difficult or tiring?
This article offers some simple tips on ways to stay healthy and avoid the winter blues. I often have clients who struggle though the colder months and they are surprised how just a few small changes in their lifestyle can really improve their mood.
Some people suffer with a more extreme condition during the winter months called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is more than just the ‘winter blues’ it is a mood disorder with depression-like symptoms. If you believe you might be affected by SAD then I recommend you seek advice from your GP but following the tips below will be of great benefit to you too.
In a nutshell, our bodies need a balance of hormones to stay well and healthy. Too much stress and the immune system is weakened. Too little serotonin and our mood dips which also then effects the balance of hormones for sleep. We need enough good quality sleep to stay emotionally balanced. Put simply, to boost your well-being this winter, think about reducing stress, balancing your hormones and supporting your immune system.
Here are some tips on how you might do this:
Go outside and get some sunlight
Our bodies need sunlight and fresh air every day. There is less daylight during winter and it’s often tempting to stay indoors wrapped up warm. This can lead to a lack of sunlight which has a negative effect on the internal production of our ‘happy hormones’. Sunlight is vital for our bodies to produce vitamin D and enough serotonin, which keeps our sleep hormones balanced for the night.
Try to get outside preferably in the morning to help keep those hormones balanced. Getting fresh air and spending time in nature has also been proven to boost a person’s mood. For most of us getting out into some natural daylight for at least 30 minutes each day is enough but if you think that the lack of sunlight is causing issues for you, there are many special lamps on the market that mimic daylight.
Get moving and be active
A little like above, we have a tendency to be less physically active during the cold season but our bodies still need exercise. Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective remedies to help lift people out of depression. Getting enough exercise not only boosts your immune system and reduces stress but also balances the hormones which help you sleep more deeply. Getting up out of bed also helps you to avoid oversleeping during the winter which can actually cause extra tiredness and lack of balance.
Daily exercise could be as simple as a brisk morning walk so do anything more than nothing each day.
Balance your diet
It’s natural to want more carbs when it’s cold outside but too much sugar puts enormous stress on the body and causes swings in energy and therefore your mood. Over the festive season, most of us will be eating more rich foods than normal and perhaps consuming more alcohol than normal. One good way to find a balance is to make sure there’s lots of colourful fruit and veg in your diet every day as well as having detox days with lower sugar and no alcohol to help boost your immune system. There’s plenty of information out there on which foods boost serotonin levels so start searching for more details.
Remember what you consume affects your state of mind.
Have some fun and connect with people
Another great way to boost your overall well-being is to connect and enjoy time with others. It’s also a good opportunity to share any worries if you need to. We are social beings and need some kind of connection with others.
Treat yourself to something fun or perhaps book something in that you can really look forward to. You might also like to engage is an interesting hobby or project that you can focus your mind on during this time.
Laughter is one of the best therapies too and is an instant boost to endorphins in the bloodstream. There’s lots of fun to be had during the colder months so allow your inner child to come out to play!
Relax more! Reduce stress
There are many ways to relax including listening to music, breathing techniques, guided meditation or exercise such as yoga. The winter can be a more stressful time so a minimum of 10 minutes a day of something to really help yourself unwind can make an enormous difference.
December and January are often very busy months too so start to plan ahead to get more organised and avoid adding any extra stress to an already busy time.
Focus your mind on being well and feeling good
So the above are reminders of general well-being and actually could be applied to any time in the year. Here’s another which you might not yet have considered as vital for your well-being this winter….think positively!
What we focus on becomes our experience and basic psychology shows us that we experience what we expect to experience most of the time. So if you expect to find the winter months really hard or it’s inevitable that you’ll get a cold, it’s almost like you’re setting yourself up unconsciously to experience exactly that. If we always talk negatively about a situation or an event then we feel negative about it. If we focus on what’s wrong or negative self-talk, we bring ourselves down. It’s also been proven that what we think affects our body and immune system. You only have to look at examples of the placebo effect to understand that your mind affects your body. There’s an old saying that goes ‘the body conceives what the mind perceives’.
You might like to visualise yourself enjoying all the good things about this season or spend a few minutes remembering how it feels when your immune system is strong and you are feeling well. Immerse yourself in your imagination and allow the good feelings to come into your body. A few minutes of doing this each day can make a huge difference.
You might also like to try a free download from the Quest Institute to boost your health here
Or try the Gifts exercise here
Clare Burgess is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and personal development coach. She first discovered the power of hypnotherapy when she was pregnant with her second child. A positive birth experience aided by hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing inspired Clare to train as a hypnotherapist. Clare is passionate about helping people overcome anxiety issues and emotional blocks in their lives through her work. To read more about Clare click here
For a happy and healthy winter, take a look at the health and mood boosting natural aids and foods in our natural health shop
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