6 Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Are you dreading the clocks going back and the days getting even shorter? Are you wishing away time and already longing for spring to return? Are you dreading the long commute in the dark? Do you feel like you want to start hibernating rather than gearing up for the Christmas season?

Last week I gave a workshop on Beating the Winter Blues and it was interesting to hear how these feelings are already setting in.

I love the autumn season. It’s a beautiful time of the year, with the changing colours, and the crisp, colder days with blue skies. But I also love being outdoors so the shorter days, for me, mean that I’m loosing valuable time outside. So, I’m already starting to feel a sense of dread now that the evenings are drawing in

So, what are the Winter Blues? They are closely linked to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and how the changing seasons affect us. So it doesn’t happen only in Winter; it can happen at any time of year. Perhaps we just feel it more as winter approaches, when we have less exposure to daylight and this in turn can affect our hormone levels.

And what are the symptoms of the Winter Blues? They can appear in the form of low mood and feeling down, lethargy, irritability, sleep problems, losing interest in things, feeling unsociable and also over eating.

These symptoms can appear at any time, but when they are severe or prolonged, then it’s time to take action!

Better yet, take action today, so that you can keep these symptoms completely at bay.

Here are 6 tips that you can easily implement:

  1.  Slow Down – this is the time of year to start slowing down, even though it can feel like things are speeding up. So take some breaks. When we slow down, and stop multitasking (which we can’t really do), we gain focus and clarity. This way we actually get more done, and we’re more productive.
  2. Get outside – get as much daylight as you can. Stand outside for 5 minutes before you head into work, get out for a walk at lunchtime, and try and get out again before you leave work and it’s dark. It will give you a little break so you can slow down too.
  3. Breathing – taking a few slightly deeper, fuller breaths several times a day (or more often!) will help in lots of ways. We all breathe, but most of us do it badly! Breathing more fully has so many amazing benefits. It gives us a boost of energy, relaxes and calms us and allows us to become more focused so we can get on with the tasks at hand with a bit more clarity.
  4. Plan something fun – have something to look forward to. Perhaps a holiday, or a weekend away. If you can’t manage that, plan a day out in the countryside or catch up with friends that make you laugh. Is there a hobby that you want to start up again, or something new your want to try? Do something new and exciting.
  5. Eat healthy – eat more leafy greens like kale, spinach or chard. They contain important folates which help with depression, insomnia and fatigue. Also introduce whole grains such as oats, brown rice and buckwheat, which contain B vitamins and are good for fighting stress. Lastly, try and reduce your sugar intake.
  6. Gratitude & Staying Positive – reminding yourself what’s good in your life can quickly shift your mood. Write 3 things down every day that you are grateful for. It can be the big things in life- a roof over your head, your family, or your job. But don’t forget the smaller things too – a kind word from a colleague, a smile from a stranger, getting out in nature, spending time with those you love.

You don’t have to do them all. What’s important is to make a start with one thing. See how it feels and if it’s easy to do, you’ll do more of it without thinking.

Remember:  Start small and build from there.

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