The seasons can have a bigger impact on our mental health than we may realise. So, if you’ve found yourself struggling with a low mood and lack of motivation since the nights have started drawing in, then you’re certainly not alone.
The good news is that there are a few things we can do to lift our spirits as we head into winter.
It can be tempting to go into complete hibernation as the temperature drops and the days get shorter. After all, this is what many other animals do! However, humans are social creatures, who don’t tend to do well in isolation. So, one of the best things you can do to keep positive over the next few months is to stay connected to others.
Staying in touch can take many forms. It could mean arranging weekly phone calls, drinks, or dinner with friends and family members; where you catch up over a comfort dish, a coffee, or a glass of wine. Or, committing yourself to a gym session with friend once or twice a week.
If your problem is that you don’t have many people to reach out to, then you might find it helpful to read this article on ways to meet new people.
Coping with a lack of natural light during winter can be difficult – so much so that some people develop what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is caused by changing seasons or weather, and it can make daily life hard to manage.
However, as well as doing things to help like getting enough fresh air, making the most of the shorter daylight hours by getting out for walks, and opening your blinds and curtains as soon as you wake up – light boxes also work for a lot of people.
SAD lamps contain fluorescent lights that are designed to trick our brains into thinking we’re getting natural sunlight, and therefore helping to regulate bodily rhythms such as mood, sleep, and appetite. If you’re interested in trying a SAD lamp, then there’s a wide range available on Amazon.
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining healthy muscles, teeth, and bones. But research also suggests that it can boost immunity and reduce fatigue and depression.
The problem is though that during the autumn and winter months, it can be difficult to get enough, as we get the majority of it from the sun. Our vitamin D levels can affect how we feel physically and mentally; though it’s not always immediately obvious if we’re in need of a top up.
If you’re worried about your vitamin D levels, then it’s always worth speaking to your doctor, who might recommend that you take a supplement. It’s also important to make sure that you always stick to the recommended daily intake when taking supplements, as too much vitamin D can lead to toxicity.
Scientists have suggested that spending too much time in front of a screen can contribute to depression. But, in our increasingly technological world, getting enough time away from screens can prove difficult. Work, shopping, exercise classes, and many other aspects of our lives have all moved online.
If you can, try to swap some of your screen time for other activities like going out for a walk or run, doing a jigsaw puzzle, or reading a good book.
The gloomy weather can also compound any negative feelings that you might have already been experiencing. For example, if you’re fed up with your job, bored with your routine, or just feel a bit stuck in a retirement rut. But trying something new can help to restore meaning and purpose in your life, and give you something positive to focus on.
What you decide to try is completely up to you, but the greatest rewards come from doing things that force you outside of your comfort zone – whether that be starting a part-time job, changing up your routine, or volunteering your time to help a worthy cause.
Visualisation can be pretty powerful, so if the winter season is getting you down, then why not turn your attention to your next sunny adventure?
Planning a holiday can be a great way to beat feelings of cabin fever, see past the chillier months, and start looking forward to the future.
Though Covid is still a consideration when travelling, there are plenty of places you can go to enjoy some winter sun. Check out these 9 beach destinations for a winter escape for some inspiration.
How do you keep the winter blues at bay? Do you enjoy the winter season? Do you have any additional tips for tackling winter blues?