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Top Tips To Face Down The Winter Blues

Winter walks can be frosty, but they can really lift your spirits too

Winter’s a hard time of year for many of us. The permanently grey skies and biting cold weather make us want to curl up and hide until the spring comes around. The winter blues affect different people in different ways, but the general feeling is one of mild depression, a lack of motivation to get on with anything and with that, a feeling that everything in life requires a bit too much effort.

For some people, their winter blues are severe enough to be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); for others it just means that life seems like it’s harder work in winter time.
If that sounds like you, then don’t worry, help is at hand with some top tips of how to stave off the winter blues and take a more positive approach to the next few months.

Accepting how you feel

Many people try to shrug off sadness and push it to the back of their mind. But simply blocking out negative emotions and feeling doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with them. Often, it’s better to accept that you’re not feeling great, and to wallow in that feeling for a little while. Shed some tears if that’s what you feel like doing – having a good cry now and then can actually provide a great deal of release from stress, and it enables you to reach that emotional peak and then feel better afterwards. Tears can actually help you relax and distance yourself from the issues that are upsetting you.

Moving on from there

So, once you’ve used up a box of Kleenex, how do you make changes to improve your overall outlook during the winter? Unsurprisingly, exercise and a healthy diet are both beneficial in keeping your spirits up.

Salmon, Dish, Food, Meal, Fish, Seafood, Plate
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is really important
  • Watch what you eat. You might feel like reaching for those comfort foods and settling down in front of a movie, and that’s fine every now and then, but in general, the same goes for a winter diet as a summer one. Think about what you’re eating and make sure that you’re getting lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Leafy green veg and wholegrains are good for raising our serotonin levels, as is fish like mackerel and salmon. Too many sweets and simple carbohydrates aren’t good for depression – you gain temporary euphoria from these foods, but they could actually make you feel more depressed in the long-term. The good news is that some comfort food, such as dark chocolate, can actually relieve anxiety, so have a little as a treat now and then.
  • Exercise is also something that you might not particularly feel like doing in the winter, especially if you’re already feeling low in morale. But studies have suggested that exercise can have a beneficial effect on depression as it releases endorphins (or happy hormones) around the bloodstream. If you’re not into doing classes or going to the gym, don’t worry, brisk walks in the frosty air can be just as good for you. To make sure you keep up any exercise resolutions, buddy up with a friend so that you’re both committed to regular exercise sessions together.
  • Brighten up your working and living space. Part of the science behind why we get the winter blues is the reduction in daylight hours. Our bodies crave daylight, so make sure you draw back curtains and blinds and sit near to a window when you can. If you can’t increase your exposure to natural daylight, then a light box can be helpful too.
  • Talk to people. When you feel as though you’re getting too introspective, it’s easy to shut yourself away from company. This is the opposite of what you should be doing. Being around other people and socialising will help lift you from the gloom and distract you from too much deep thinking. If you have some spare time, consider doing some local volunteering – it has been documented that helping others can be really beneficial to one’s own mental health and fulfilment.

Wrap up warm this winter and explore our best wildlife walks: — National Trust (@nationaltrust) December 1, 2015

The winter may feel like a tough season to get through. But if so, try out the tips above and see if you can make this year’s winter a more positive experience than previous years. And remember, it won’t be long until spring is here again and we’ll all feel so much better.

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