At this time of year, many of us experience lethargy, low spirits and even seasonal depression. But there is no need to suffer the winter blues. These tips can help put the light back into life and the spring back into your step.
1. Get outside for an hour every day
When it’s cold, you don’t necessarily want to spend much time outside. But being indoors all day means you don’t get enough light in the winter. Light is measured in lux. The lux reading outside, even on an overcast day, is around 1075 whereas even in a bright room, with lamps, the lux will only be around 54. So you need to get outside to get enough daylight to keep your metabolism running well in winter. Spending time in nature has been linked with boosts in serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, so make your outside time in natural surroundings if you can.
2. Invest in a daylight lamp
To boost light levels further, consider investing in a daylight lamp or full spectrum light bulb. These types of light emit full spectrum light and effectively replicate sunshine. They only need to be used for around an hour a day, preferably in the morning and have been proven to help the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and seasonal depression.
3. Have your vitamin D levels checked
A recent survey in the UK showed that more than half of adults in the UK did not have enough vitamin D. Symptoms of a mild deficiency include general tiredness, vague aches and pains and a general sense of not being well. A simple blood test can determine your level of vitamin D and if it is low, the doctor can prescribe the vitamin in higher levels than over the counter tablets. Vitamin D takes a while to build back up, but you should start to feel an improvement in a couple of weeks. Vitamin D levels are understandably lower in winter so this could be a contributing factor in seasonal depression
4. Take some exercise
In winter we tend to get out and about less and this results in less physical activity and often slight weight gain. Exercise improves our health and well-being overall and can improve symptoms of seasonal depression. Exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body and can help reduce depression and anxiety.
5. Embrace the good things about winter
There’s lots to like about winter. It can be a cosy time to spend indoors with family. We can enjoy nice seasonal food such as roasts, casseroles curries and fruit crumbles and indulge in hot chocolate with whipped cream. We can light candles, wood fires and snuggle up indoors or wrap ourselves up in winter scarves and hats and enjoy the bracing air of a winter walk. Write a list of your favourite winter activities and try to do something every day that makes you feel good about the colder months.