Tips to beat the winter blues

30th January 2020Marie Alcober Share:FacebookTwitterShare

With short and dark days, cold temperatures, and Christmastime behind us, it’s not uncommon to feel sad or have low energy levels during this time of the year. While some people experience more serious symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – which may require professional support – many of us who have the ‘winter blues’ can lift our spirits by simply making some sensible lifestyle changes. Here are five practical tips to help you get through this dreary season!

Get outside

When it’s cold and grey outside, this might be the last thing you want to do. But try to tough it out even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, because it’s actually good for your health! Few things beat natural light for that all-important Vitamin D in the wintertime, even on a cloudy day. 

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Try combining two healthy habits in one, like going for a daily run or a long walk with the kids or the dog, so you’re not only getting some fresh air, but also getting your exercise in. Staying active is also a scientifically-backed way to boost your mood. If there’s a long stretch of time when the weather doesn’t permit you to be outside, make sure to get lots of natural light into your space by opening up window blinds and curtains.

Stay social 

It’s so easy to hole up inside the house this time of year, but make sure to keep in touch with friends and family. Take up a new hobby, like sewing or painting, and head to a class solo or with a buddy. It’s a great way to stay motivated while breaking into new social circles. 

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Or if entertaining is your forte, invite friends over for a cosy dinner party or even a Netflix binge watching party to enjoy your favourite shows together. If you’re a natural introvert, consider taking a walk to the local park or reading a book at a coffee shop so you can be around people even if you don’t feel comfortable interacting with anyone.

Try journaling

Did you know journaling is a very effective method of self-care? Writing about your day allows you to reflect on and reframe your emotions. Write honestly and freely and you’ll find that simply putting pen to paper can help you clear your mind. Treat your notebook like your closest confidante and (free!) therapist.

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But if you can’t bear the idea of recounting your days on paper, don’t worry! There are so many ways to journal. You can try out bullet journaling if you love writing all kinds of to-do lists, start a food journal if you love cooking and testing out new recipes, or even keep a dream journal if you want to keep track of your bizarre and wonderful adventures when you’re asleep.

Stick to a routine 

When you’re feeling down it’s understandably harder to stick to a daily routine. But during this season, it’s even more important to keep the healthy habits you’ve been practicing all year – whether that’s meal prepping healthy lunches, meditating, exercising or having a proper sleep schedule.

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This may be tricky with energetic youngsters always wanting your attention, but try fitting in a little bit of time for yourself every week – even if that means just a half hour doing something you enjoy when the kids have gone to bed. 

Be kind to yourself

And finally, here’s the most important tip! If you find yourself slipping from your routine or wanting to have a lie in once in a while rather than going for a run, don’t beat yourself up over it. Find small ways to make everyday tasks more enjoyable, like blasting your favourite songs while you meal prep or adding a face mask to your evening regimen.

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According to the NHS, being cold heightens depression and keeping warm can help beat the winter blues. So if you feel the urge to lay under warm blankets and drink hot chocolate over the weekend, don’t feel guilty for listening to your body. After all, balance is key!

It’s natural to experience the winter blues, but if you’re experiencing persistent symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to call your GP for professional advice and support.