How to Beat The Winter Blues

We’ve had our first snow in Derbyshire this week, and it feels like winter is almost upon us now.  Are you looking forward to it, or does the thought fill you with despair?

If you’re someone who struggles with low mood and lack of energy and motivation in the winter, you may be dreading the next few months. Perhaps you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in which case do have a look at this blog post I wrote about SAD a few years ago – its full of ideas for ways to combat this debilitating condition.

Even if you’re not a fully-fledged SAD sufferer, its very normal to feel sluggish and a bit gloomy in Winter; shorter hours of daylight reduce our production of the hormone serotonin, which is a mood booster and makes us feel good. . . lower levels = lower mood.

Also the shorter, colder days can make us more reclusive and less likely to be sociable and active, which in turn can also affect our mood.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are ways to protect yourself from low mood at this time of year.  So what can you do to keep the Winter blues at bay as much as possible and stay emotionally well?

Here are some simple ideas you can try:

  • Try and go for a brisk walk within 2 hours of waking up – scientists have proven that exposure to light early in the day will suppress the body’s production of the hormone melatonin (which makes us sleepy) while at the same time triggering the release of serotonin, which will boost your mood and help you feel awake and energised.
  • You could try a little colour therapy and invest in a nice colourful scarf, hat, and some gloves for Winter if your existing ones are abit dark, or the worse for wear. The colours will give you a psychological boost when you are feeling ambivalent about getting outside, and will brighten your mood.
  • It’s not too late to plant some Spring bulbs inside to brighten up the house. I planted some Irises in Sunshine Barn a couple of weeks ago in little bottles and pots, and they are already growing! I always feel when indoor hyacinths, and other colourful and fragrant plants bloom indoors in winter, it just cheers things up – especially when there’s nothing much growing outside.
  • Have a good old ‘rid out’ of your clothes and accessories and donate unwanted clothes to charity. Clearing things in this way reduces clutter (which is very energy draining and can feel depressing) and feels great. You could also tackle other areas of the house where things may have piled up. Put some uplifting music on while you do it for extra therapeutic benefits!
  • We tend to want comfort foods in Winter, and whilst this is normal it can be a problem if we eat too many unhealthy foods high in refined and highly processed ingredients, as these can have a negative effect on our mental health.  So try and choose comforting, warming foods that are packed with healthy ingredients. One of my go-to recipes for winter is this yummy spicy Moroccan soup – its quick and easy to make, and perfect with some warm wholegrain bread on a cold day! 
  • Refresh your bedding and sleeping area. Invest in a nice soft blanket or a cosy cardi or bed jacket you can pull round you on chilly mornings, and perhaps a couple of soft cushions. Make it extra cosy and comfortable so you enjoy snuggling in bed on cold nights. I couldn’t live without my electric blanket, but hot water bottles are also lovely in winter! 
  • If you have time to be creative this Winter, that will definitely boost your mood and pass the time in a positive way. Rather than flopping in front of the tv, could you have a go a making something – maybe candles, Christmas cards or presents – or perhaps you’d like to try knitting, drawing, sewing, crochet. Having a creative project to focus on is great for giving you a sense of purpose and also a sense of achievement when you finished. Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing 
  • Combine this with making something for someone else and the benefits are multiplied, as helping others and feeling useful are great ways to boost your own wellbeing . . . think making premature baby clothes, knitting squares to make blankets for people in need etc. Here’s a link to a charity that supports premature babies to get you started.
  • On this note, you might like to think about volunteering this winter – walking dogs at your local rescue centre, helping out at a soup kitchen, collecting blankets and warm clothes for homeless charities, visiting a lonely person in your local community etc. You will be welcomed with open arms and it will give you a wonderful glow to know you have helped someone with your kindness. 

Overall, I think staying emotionally well is all about showing yourself some self-love by making your home a cosy, fragrant, relaxing place to be this Winter and making sure you have the things you need to nourish, nurture and comfort yourself. Allow yourself to really rest and recouperate whenever you can (after all, this is the hibernation season!) Combining this with some stimulating, creative projects and purposeful activities will help occupy your mind and help prevent low mood from taking hold.

If you have any ideas to add to these, do leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Warmest wishes

Frances x

P.S. If this Winter is going to be extra hard for you because you are struggling following a recent loss or change, or dealing with a stressful situation in your life, then don’t suffer alone. One of my specialist therapy/coaching programmes might just be what you need to support you at this difficult time.

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