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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Winter typically brings high amounts of rain, shorter periods of sunlight, and drops in temperature. For some, these changes can affect physical and emotional health. The grey gloom in the sky can be reflected in your mood, dropping energy levels. Sleep and eating habits can also change.
So, how can you beat the winter blues changes naturally?
A good place to start is to look at your dinner plate. Include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, adequate water, whole grains and good sources of protein to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs for optimal performance. As the old adage goes, “Food is medicine”.
It’s easy to become trapped in a cycle of negative thinking when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. One simple way to train your brain to see the sunshine above the clouds is to take a few minutes each day to identify 5 things that you are grateful for today. Write them down. They can be as simple as being grateful for a few minutes of peace, the gift of a friend, or the fact that you have another day of life. Taking time to be grateful has a way of making personal problems feel more manageable.
Alcohol, caffeine, refined sugars and processed carbohydrates are types of depressants, which can work against you. Limit or avoid them altogether where possible.
Exercise contributes to health and happiness by releasing endorphins. While gyms aren’t always available with changing COVID-19 restrictions around the country, there’s still a wealth of options for getting those happy hormones pumping.
Outdoor activities can help calm the nerves and relax the body. Being outdoors is also a great way of soaking in some sun and thus increasing your vitamin D levels.
If you need to stay indoors and are lacking inspiration for physical activity, there’s a myriad of free and paid exercise videos on the internet to follow. A quick search will give you plenty to choose from.
There is great power in establishing a routine. Consistent repetition forms habits. Form good habits by being disciplined about when you wake up, eat, exercise and sleep. Also pay attention to how you spend your spare time. Using that time to pursue hobbies such as arts, craft or reading will engage your brain and build your talents. A full night’s sleep (8 hours each night) rejuvenates the body and makes the next day more manageable.
Certain essential oils can evoke different emotions and moods. Scented candles or essential oil burners can boost your mood. Uplift the senses with orange, lemon, rose, ginger, rosemary, jasmine and geranium. Create a calm, peaceful environment with chamomile, juniper, melissa or lavender.
Fill your environment with bright and cheerful colours you like, such as flowers, cushions, bed covers and indoor plants. Open doors and windows daily to bring in fresh air and create new energy into the home.
Controlled breathing features in the practice of yoga, tai chi and meditation to help promote relaxation and reduce stress. Scientific studies have shown that controlling your breath can help to manage stress and stress-related conditions.
The key is to abdominal breath rather than upper chest breathing. Sit comfortably in a quiet environment. With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose raising the diaphragm (not the chest), breath out slowly through the mouth. Continue with 6-10 deep slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes daily for 6 weeks.
Reconnect with a favourite friend for an uplifted mood.
Nurture yourself, journal your thoughts, take a hot bath, read a book, sit in nature, embrace love, let your inner-self sing with joy.
If you need help with shaking off the winter blues, don’t be afraid to seek out advice and treatment. Speak to your healthcare professional or contact Lifeline Australia on 131114.