How To Banish The Winter Blues

The Winter months are dark and cold and can sometimes feel never ending. If you think you may be suffering from the Winter Blues, we have some tips and tricks to fight back.

The yearly encounter with the Winter season is often a cause of melancholy for many people. For some this shift is felt in a strong and significant way. The winter blues can have an impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. For those who might suffer from it, symptoms include lack of energy, trouble with sleeping regularly, and an overall feeling of gloom. According to The Guardian, 6% of the UK population suffers from it in a way that makes it hard to carry on day to day. Whether you feel like you have symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, or it has been diagnosed by a specialist, February can be a tough month for many of us.

Are You Suffering From The Winter Blues

Other than feeling demotivated, people affected by SAD can feel several symptoms including the desire to sleep more than you would normally do and a need to find comfort. This can take the form of comfort eating, and may lead to weight gain. What makes it hard to spot – and to take it seriously enough – is that confusingly, it can present the opposite symptoms too. Lack of sleep and appetite are both signs you may be affected. It can often be mistaken for a mild form of depression too. SAD is in fact a manifestation of a depressive disorder that is highly influenced by our environment rather than inner turmoil. Around 10-15% of the population is affected by it, and in 80% of the cases, it’s women who struggle the most with the symptoms of SAD.

Even though the days are shorter, we live in a society where our lifestyle hasn’t adapted to follow the natural cycle of daylight. We are expected to be constantly productive regardless of the time of the year. Our melatonin levels, the hormone that makes us sleep, are highly affected by the light that we perceive during the day. We’re not saying that you need 12 hours of sunshine, but our body would naturally feel the need to slow down during the winter months as we experience more dark hours. February is far from the festive euphoria of Christmas and still in the heart of the cold Winter months. Some days it really feels hard to have a positive attitude, and we’d just like to feel some comfort without feeling guilty for taking too much time for ourselves. You sweated that 2020 would have been your year – and it can still be! – but changes don’t happen in one day and if you’re not productive 24/7 that doesn’t make you lazy.

We gathered our thoughts on the subject, and we’re here to give you advice on how to be kind to yourself: Summer isn’t just a season, its a state of mind! However please remember that this is not medical advice and if you are feeling low and suspect you may be suffering from SAD or any other form of depression, it’s important to talk to someone. Click here for NHS treatment options

Enjoy Some Sunshine

Is the sun shining? This would be the moment to take a break from your desk and take a walk outside. We tend to schedule our breaks at a specific time of the day, but give yourself more flexibility and catch some light as much as you can. Even a 5 minutes walk in the sun can make a huge difference to our mood. If you find it hard to get outside often, many people find Light Therapy Lamps beneficial: they help you in maintaining a regular circle of daytime and night time and can be a real mood boost. Try the Bodyclock Shine 300, £129, Lumie. As explained to Bustle, Dr. Robert Cain, a family medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic claims that “adding the lamp can increase the production of hormones that help your mood and energy levels.”

Take Care Of Your Diet

If you feel worn out, natural food supplements and ginseng can make a difference. However the most important thing is to listen to your body and to avoid food that doesn’t aid your energy levels. It can often be foods you have registered in your mind as “comforting”, ie: sugar and complex carbs. Unfortunately these foods are hard to digest, often destabilising your insulin levels, and will make you feel less energetic. 

The food we consider beneficial mentally is a very personal thing, but veggies and fruits are obviously always welcome. A variety of vitamins are key! Keep that slice of cake as an occasional, well-deserved treat. Also try to cut your alcohol intake. It’s true that a glass of wine can lift you up, but there’s nothing worse than a hangover if you’re down. Alcohol can often amplify our feelings, so it’s important to drink in moderation if you are feeling a bit low. For more tips, check out our guide to Winter Wellness.

Getaway For The Weekend 

There’s nothing better than changing your environment when you feel mentally stuck. It’s also important to take in fresh air. Surrounding yourself with nature will help you feel grounded and in touch with yourself, especially if you live in a big city. Cities can be as exciting as they are alienating. However there’s nothing wrong in feeling the need to take a break from the city life. You don’t have to jump on a plane to escape to somewhere beautiful and mentally nurturing. Why not take a look at our favourite Eco retreats in the UK

Me Time

Me time isn’t alwayss the priority it should be. In spite of this, it’s important to consider it as a key part of your health, inspite of your family members, or your partner. Don’t be afraid to say: “I do love you and I know that Saturday night is the only moment in which we can have some quality time, but I have a date with myself and I just want to spend the evening alone in my bathtub”. If they love you, they’ll understand. Indulge in a nurturing ritual for an hour or so. Why not switch off your phone and delete Instagram for the day? If other people are partying and having (or pretending to have) the time of their life, good for them. But FOMO and the feeling of inadequacy Social Media sometimes gives us will only serve to darken your spirits. Only follow accounts that nurture you, life is too short to allow things that make you feel bad to invade your personal space.

Step Back From Your Newsfeed

It’s a tough world out there. Sometimes keeping up with current events makes it feel tougher. Remember that it’s ok to take a break from the news that can make you feel disheartened. Switch off any news feeds or alerts on your phone so they don’t catch you unawares. Equally, keep this in mind when you choose the next movie you’ll watch or book you will read. Prioritise empowering content until you feel ready for that award-winning title that you already know will break your heart.

Get Active

When we’re in an overthinking mood, remind yourself that we have a physical body too. Jogging, swimming, yoga, pummeling a boxing bag, choose your favourite activity and get moving. If we manage to shift our perception from our mind to our body, you’ll release tension and will be able to take a step back from negative feelings. (Pun not intended). Plus exercise is a proven method to improve mental health.

Look Good, Feel Good

It’s easy to let go and not to pamper ourselves when we’re in a bad mood. However a little TLC can make a real difference. Raise your hand if putting makeup on makes you feel more confident and gives you a boost of energy. If you feel like spending the afternoon at home and reading a book, you don’t need an excuse to put some mascara on if it makes you feel good. Plus: watering your plants with red lipstick and a manicure has never been chicer.

Do A Good Deed 

Some days you may wake up and struggle to find meaning in your surroundings, your lifestyle or your job. There is nothing that fills us with purpose like doing something that will change someone else’s mood. A lot of us are drowning in a pile of ‘stuff’. It clouds our minds and blocks our mental pathways. Bring that ‘stuff’ that doesn’t make you happy anymore to a charity shop. Make a donation or spend the day helping out in a dog shelter. Call your Grandma. Send a “How are you?” message to someone else even if you’re the one that needs that text. Sometimes we need to step out of ourselves to gain perspective on our situation. 

The Winter months only last so long, but we hope these tips will help it go a bit quicker, and be a bit more bearable. If you think you are suffering from SAD then it’s important to seek professional help. It is a recognised mental disorder so please do not feel silly or awkward asking for help. You will be glad that you did. 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for general advice only and should not be used as a substitute for professional healthcare or beauty advice. We make every effort to ensure we only recommend safe products however you should always do a patch test when trying new products. This post may contain affiliate links. All images courtesy of Unsplash