Down here in little old New Zealand, it is cold. With snow, rain and freezing winds whipping across the country, this winter season is proving a bleak one featuring grey skies on an almost daily basis.
It is perfect weather for hibernating, comfort eating and also for possibly succumbing to a dose of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those “winter blues” that we complain about can be very real, however if the symptoms drag on for more than a few days and you find that you are spiralling downwards, you really should visit your doctor (you can read about SAD symptoms here ). Generally, treatment involves light therapy and possibly prescribed antidepressants if the SAD symptoms have worsened to become more like clinical depression.
The Winter Blues affect most of us to some extent though, and I’ve listed 5 simple habits that aren’t rocket science, but can make a difference to how you cope with the cold this season, so read on and get inspired!
1. Start your day with warm water, lemon juice and a teaspoon of turmeric. This wonderfully aromatic Indian spice isn’t just for curries, but contains the chemical compound curcumin which is an antioxidant. Curcumin also acts as an anti-inflammatory, has been linked with assisting cardiovascular issues and has been found helpful in fighting depression. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but is so worth the health benefits to your body! (More info on turmeric can be found here, and here.)
2. Get more sunlight! This seems a no-brainer, but filtered sunlight through your sunglasses or through the window doesn’t count. Get outside and let as much of your skin as possible absorb the sun so that the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are able to reach you – these are the ones needed for your body to make Vitamin D, and they can’t penetrate glass. Close your eyes and let the sunlight radiate into your eyelids – you will immediately feel your mood improve after a few minutes of this alone!
3. Keep hydrated! It is easy to feel thirsty and drink water when it is hot, but in winter, it is commonplace to become dehydrated. This shows in your skin which can become dry and flaky and dehydration affects your body in so many ways, including weight gain and being more susceptible to colds and flues. Drink up folks! Especially if exercising or in a physical job – your body will thank you for it.
4. Keep track of your nutrition. It is so easy to comfort eat through winter – and so easy to let a few extra kilos creep on without really noticing UNTIL the warm weather hits and you realise that you can’t fit any clothes! Try to stick to the 80 / 20 principle – 80% eating on plan, and 20% treats, and you will have a better chance of still fitting those summer pants while enjoying the odd social treat over winter. Definitely a way to make you feel better about yourself!
5. MOVE THAT BODY!! Again – the hibernation factor can come into play and you find all manner of excuses such as it is too dark / cold / wet to bother getting out the door to the gym. Not moving is possibly the worst thing that you can do though, as exercise increases your metabolism, builds bone and muscle density and above all – releases endorphins which again helps combat depression, as you feel great when you complete a good workout!
So there you have it – 5 tips that you can apply to your life today to help keep the winter blues at bay. Get to it – your body AND your mood will feel so much brighter, even in the midst of the cold weather.