Days are getting shorter. Outdoor activities are moving indoors, your sun-kissed skin is wrapped up in an oversized sweater, and the light coming through your windows is shrinking by the day. You’ve officially entered the chillier side of the year.
If the imminent grey days are getting you down, you’re not the only one. Daylight has long been found to impact mood, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression, occurring for many in the winter months. But even when you’re an avid summer lover there are ways to survive, and even thrive, amid the dark and rainy weather. Whether you just want to get through the cold or you’re ready to embrace the changing seasons, these wellness tips will help you out.
Tips to Survive
Light it Up
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone that helps with focus, and darker lighting triggers the release of another hormone, melatonin, which is responsible for helping you sleep. It follows that lack of daylight can leave you feeling slow, sluggish, ready to crawl back into bed.
SAD lightboxes are an effective way to simulate sunlight and trigger the release of serotonin. You can use them to wake up in the morning, or in periods throughout the day, and the benefits accumulate over time.
Vitamins to Combat the Cold
Vitamin D is often labeled the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as your body produces it when it’s exposed to sunlight. When sunny days are few and far between, inevitably, Vitamin D is insufficiently produced. You can take supplements or incorporate more vitamin D into your diet by eating oily fish, mushrooms, or fortified cereal and dairy products.
Other vitamins to look out for are vitamin C, which keeps your immune system in check during cold and flu season, Iron, which can help regulate your body temperature, and vitamin B, which is important for maintaining your energy levels. Because no-ones happy when they’re sneezing, shivering, and sleepy.
Certain foods have been found to have mood-boosting potential and can help keep your spirits up when the weather is getting you down. A fiber-rich diet can improve mental wellbeing and simple carbohydrates are an important source of energy. A hot bowl of vegetable soup with wholegrain bread or crackers, or a porridge paired with winter fruits like apples and dates, might be just what you need.
Dark chocolate is a particularly good mood-boosting treat as it contains polyphenols, a micronutrient that can release endorphins. It works best when eaten in front of a Halloween or Christmas movie (there’s no science to back this up but trust us here!).
Drag Yourself Outside
You might find your energy levels dip with the darker skies. Wrapping up warm and going for a crisp walk is a gentle way to move your body that can help combat lethargy and fatigue. The cold on your face will be sure to wake you up and being outside ensures you get all the natural daylight you can.
Talk it out
SAD is more than just the ‘winter blues’, but a recognized type of depression. Make sure to reach out to a friend, family member, or a medical practitioner if you’re struggling to cope.
Tips to Thrive
It may come as a shock to the summer-lovers out there, but some people love this time of year! If you’ve decided it’s time to get out of your hibernation station and embrace the colder weather, these tips are for you.
Gingerbread, pumpkin spice, smoked vanilla, cedarwood, and cinnamon – there are so many delicious smells to set you up for the new season. Whether candles, incense, or room sprays are your thing, it’s the perfect time to get your space smelling cozy.
‘Tis the season of the oversized. The comfiest clothes you own can come out now, and is there any better feeling than being warm and toasty in a giant sweater? Fall back in love (pun intended) with deep colors like burgundy, brown, and burnt orange.
When the heat had us reaching for anything cold and refreshing, our hot-drink favorites got forgotten, but now’s the time to welcome them back!
Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, how we’ve missed you. Peppermint teas, a classic cuppa, and flavored lattes, you’re back on the cards too.
Baking is a relaxing (and delicious) activity to pass time on rainy days. Think apple or pumpkin pies, freshly made bread, and tasty treats like brownies, flapjacks, and muffins. While your bakes are in the oven, your house will fill with a delightful smell.
The Self-Care Season
A dark evening is a perfect time for a night-in to yourself. Rejuvenate with a hot bath, facemask, and your favorite book or film. If you fill this season with self-care, you’ll be glowing by the time summer comes around again!
Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash
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