Surviving The Winter Blues

Jan 25, 2021

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Blue Monday, the day when people apparently feel at their saddest and loneliest, debt is at its highest, the weather is miserable, cold and dark and divorce rates are high. And January 18 2021 we also have the small issue of a global pandemic thrown in for good measure and it’s no wonder that people aren’t feeling at their brightest and may be struggling to think positive thoughts.

Read on for a few suggestions which may be helpful if you’re feeling this way:


1. Try To Increase Your Exposure To Light

This can be difficult with such short days but we should try to make the most of the light when it is available. A brief lunchtime stroll can help. Light Box lamps are available to purchase and these are recommended by the NHS for those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The bright light from these lamps is designed to replace the missing sunlight during our darkest months, stimulating serotonin production (mood enhancing hormone) and inhibiting melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone). Sitting by a window whilst indoors can also help.


2. Get Into The Great Outdoors

Not such an easy one to do when the rain is hammering on the windows and the wind is howling, but fresh air is so helpful for uplifting our moods. Research studies have shown that the body and mind are energised from oxygen intake from fresh air, making us feel happier physically as well as emotionally. So, invest in some thermals and waterproofs (the dog walkers amongst us will already be equipped!), and make an effort to get a daily breath of fresh air, even a quick stomp around the village will help. Appreciating the beauty of nature (yes, embrace the mud!) will go a long way to having a positive effect on our moods.


3. Move Your Body!

Exercise release endorphins, our happy hormones, helping to boost positive thoughts and a more cheery outlook. Even 10 minutes can make a difference, it doesn’t have to hog your whole morning! If you like outdoor exercise, you’ll be also increasing daylight exposure, breathing fresh air and appreciating nature (unless you’re in a city of course!) If you’re more of an indoor-exerciser (or just don’t like the current weather) there are lots of options too. YouTube is packed with yoga videos, lots of pilates and yoga teachers are offering online classes, you could even dust off a skipping rope, use a mini-trampoline or run up your staircase for some cardio-increasing exercise (please don’t slip and fall though!!)


4. Get The Giggles!

Laughter is the best medicine! When we laugh we release endorphins, the body natural feel-good chemicals, relaxing us and promoting a general sense of well-being. Studies have also shown that laughing can help us to burn calories (excellent after Christmas excesses!) Up to 40 calories per week can be burned from an hours worth of giggling. So, investigate Netflix or Amazon Prime for some comedy films or TV series, listen to some funny podcasts, phone up a jolly friend who loves a joke or get yourself absorbed in some amusing books.


5. Don’t Forget Self-Care

We all need to feel nurtured so ensure that you are allowing some time ideally every day, but at least every week to really look after ‘you’. Take a relaxing soak in a hot bath, read a book you enjoy, give yourself a mini-facial or pedicure. Enjoy a catch up chat with a good friend on the phone or Zoom. Journaling and meditation are also great ways to notice your mood patterns.


6. Be Kind To Yourself

If you set New Years Resolutions that are slipping, don’t beat yourself up. Take one achievable goal out of your list and focus on that, even breaking that down into smaller steps can make it easier to stick to. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, it’s the consistency that leads to effectiveness and change (rather like with frequency of adjustments when you first start chiropractic care!). So, if Dry January hasn’t gone to plan, (which is rather hard to stick to if it’s not what you’re used to!), rather than feeling like a failure, instead try simply reducing your alcohol intake, have alcohol free days and perhaps stick to one drink at the weekend only. Replace your usual glass of vino with a Kombucha perhaps (some amazing flavours to try) or with some herbal tea or a smoothie you like. You’ll find it far easier to stick to, yet will still feel a sense of accomplishment!


7. Eat Seasonally, Healthily And Mindfully

There is an overwhelming abundance of food choice available to us all year round and eating has become a fast-paced act that many do without putting much thought into. Learn what foods would naturally be available at this time of year and choose those, and sit down to eat your meals rather than practising ‘on-the-run’ dining. Good nutrition helps us to keep well and avoid feeling lethargic. We are what we eat! Avoid sugar in all its forms which can wreak havoc on your health and leave you feeling tired and unenthusiastic. There are some fabulous healthy recipe books out there, perhaps experiment with a few so you can impress your friends and family when we eventually can have people round for dinner once more!

8. Find A New Hobby!

Now is the time to try out some crafty stuff that you normally wouldn’t….crochet, anyone?! Nurture your creative side with drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, gardening, puzzles. I’ve been so impressed with some of the new skills that patients are acquiring… painting by numbers and learning Spanish are two examples! Creativity helps to relax the body and focus the mind leading to a sense of calm. Dopamine (the body’s natural anti-depressant) is released when we are creative, helping to reduce depression, stress and anxiety.


9. Make A To Do List And Start Ticking It Off!

I love nothing better than that feeling of satisfaction when I can draw a line through something on my To-Do List! Productivity does wonders for changing a low mood into a good one. Clear out those old clothes you haven’t worn for years (you really aren’t going to wear them again!), get the stiletto heels onto an online selling site (they’re bad for your back anyway!), plan your mood board and redecorate that spare room that you’ve been meaning to do forever, ring the builder and organise that new porch you’d like built or get planning the extension you need… just make a little list of the steps you need to take and get them done little by little, you’ll feel so much better!

Remember that Spring will be along in no time, the little snowdrops are already appearing and there’s a tiny few minutes extra daylight either end of the day 🙂

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