It can’t be escaped, but most of us are affected by the weather and light conditions around during winter. So when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight in the day – it is well known that we can feel a bit low and less motivated. So what can we do to remain motivated and avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADs) or the ‘winter blues’?
Not just because of Cold and Flu, Winter months are higher in job absenteeism and people suffering depression. We might be tempted to pretend we are bears during winter days and pull-over the duvet and hibernate. But that’s not going to help. We will be depriving ourselves of natural light, stimulation and will only feel worse. Here are 5 things to do:
|1. Get some natural light and get it as early as possible in the day. Pull the curtains wide open to let the light in. Despite it being cold or wet outside, get out there! It is scientifically proven that our body clock responds to natural light, improving our immune system, our mood and our biorhythms. It can be harder to get this light exposure we need in the winter months as so often we are up before the sunrise and don’t leave work until after the sun has set. Natural light (including on cloudy days) increases your serotonin and vitamin D levels Plus reduce melatonin production – all three directly linked to your mood.
|2. Getting fresh air and exercise is linked with getting natural light. Summer months encourage us to move more as we participate in outdoor activities in the fairer weather. Once the cold months arrive, there are less options for getting out hillwalking or cycling and so we get less fresh air exercise. In the winter we use the car more, walk less and use the gym more. Planning to get some fresh air and getting out of breath with 30 minutes of outdoor exercise is proven to be important to us. Whilst I might be hesitant on a cold rainy day to step out for my run, I always feel good afterwards.
|3. Participate in an enjoyable activity each day to maintain positive thinking. Do something like a hobby that you enjoy, volunteering for a good cause or spending times with friends. If you can’t get out to do this, find ways to connect from home. At the very least find something that makes you laugh lots. I know that if I can do something to help someone else that it will lift my own spirits.
|4. Keep to good sleep patterns each day and keep getting up on time. Scientists have proven that early risers will feel better during the day compared to late risers. Even better if you do something positive fist when you wake up. This means not reaching for your phone or checking the news. Meditate/pray, exercise or read a book rather than consume some type of other media. By sticking to a routine, you will keep yourself motivated.
|5. Eat a balanced diet with fortified Vitamin D as well as fruits and vegetables. Use the winter months to research how you can improve your diet. Spend the time inside cooking from raw ingredients which means you eat less additives, less added sugar and less fat. Cooking can also count as a fun activity if you enjoy it! I enjoy digging out a recipe I haven’t used for ages or trying something new. It especially satisfying to create your own meals from scratch.
It always helps to have fun things to look forwards to in the future. So lastly, make plans for when the weather improves and the days are longer. It’s no surprise that more holidays are booked during the winter as it helps to have something good to look forward to in the future. Plan your next adventure, your next holiday, a sports outing. Making these plans for future months will keep you positive now.