Advance Performance | Tips To Beat The Winter Blues
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Tips To Beat The Winter Blues

Tips To Beat The Winter Blues

It’s that time of year again…reduced sunlight and the nights are drawing in. Do you relish the time to light the fire and enjoy the cosiness of the start of the Winter season?

winter walk

Some of us are susceptible to what’s known as the Winter Blues – the lethargy, feeling down and craving carbs. Here are some ways that you can beat those feelings and have a more positive and happier Winter season.

The winter blues are related to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is related to the amount of natural light available in the winter months.  The lack of daylight means some people’s bodies do not stop producing melatonin in the morning, so they can feel exhausted and need more sleep. Darker and shorter days, exposure to electrical lights during the day and shift schedules can greatly affect the natural circadian rhythm of our bodies.

Be outside for half an hour each day. Exposure to sunlight also boosts the “happy hormone” serotonin – so a key to beating the winter blues is ensuring we take the opportunity to be outside for at least half an hour in daylight each day during the morning or early afternoon.

Doctors believe that our bodies need to be exposed to around 2,500 lux (the measurement of light intensity) for half an hour daily to allow our natural body clocks to work correctly. The average well-lit office only emits 500 lux whereas a bright winter’s morning can provide approximately 4,000 lux.

Take up an outdoor activity such as gardening, geocaching, or photography. The charity Thrive has found that gardening can help you feel happier, restore emotional balance, and can also enable you to build physical strength after a serious illness.

Go jogging, hill walking, or walk the dog.  Regular exercise will help to keep you physically fit, lose weight, and boost your serotonin levels.  If you exercise outdoors this will improve the serotonin levels your body produces and you will gain the natural light which you need to maintain your circadian rhythm.

Have a winter break abroad.  Consider taking your main holiday abroad during the winter months.  Time in the sunshine will boost your serotonin and Vitamin D levels and in turn building your resilience for the winter.  Skiing is ideal as you will have the added bonus of exercise each day.  Advice from SAD experts also suggest a holiday closer to the Equator or in the Southern hemisphere to benefit from the sunshine.

Eat a healthy balanced diet.  Craving filling carbohydrates and sweet treats is a natural symptom of SAD and the winter blues but isn’t healthy! Eat protein and slow releasing carbohydrates which will maintain your energy. Make batches of vegetable soup to freeze and take for lunch at work and take fruit and nuts as snacks to stave off those sweet cravings.

Boost your zinc intake to maintain your immune system.  Zinc acts as a neurotransmitter enabling your cells to communicate.  Boost your zinc by eating seafood, wheat-germ based bread or cereals, spinach, nuts or dark chocolate.

Keep to your daily routine.  Resist the temptation to lie in at the weekend as this confuses your circadian rhythm.  Get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night.  Have a relaxing routine which enables you to wind down at night such as a scented bath and a warm drink before bed.  Make sure you switch off all your electrical devices and create the habit of leaving phones, tablets, and iPods out of the bedroom. Sleep is vital to boost your immune system and emotional wellbeing.

Embrace Winter and the changing of the seasons. If you think you suffer from Winter Blues, work on your positive self talk so you are focused on being at your best. Set fun goals and remember to celebrate your successes.