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Digital Subscriptions >  Blog > 4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Natural Health

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Posted 08 December 2017   |   1552 views   |   Health & Fitness Expert advice to keep you happy, healthy and energised this season from Natural Health magazine

Cold weather paired with getting up and leaving work in the dark can leave us feeling low, lethargic and pining for stodgy food and duvet days, which is not only unpleasant but also inconvenient when you’ve got lots to be doing (Christmas shopping, we’re looking at you!). And for some of us, it can even develop into full-blown SAD (seasonal affective disorder). To help you stay upbeat and on track, we’ve got the low-down on the best methods for banishing those winter blues. 

Exercise Outdoors
“Regular exercise has been proven to help boost mood by encouraging the brain to produce more feel-good chemicals and keeping our hormone levels constant,” says psychologist Honey Langcaster-James. “Exercising outside, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk, kills two birds with one stone as sunlight on the skin is the best way to get your fix of vitamin D, plus the fresh air will revitalise and invigorate you. It’s also wise to increase your intake of vitamin D-rich foods, such as butter and oily fish, and take a supplement.”

 

Upgrade Your Diet
“While many people crave carbohydrates when they’re suffering from SAD, ensuring you’re getting enough protein is more beneficial,” says nutritional therapist Hannah Braye (finefeathernutrition.com). “Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) help to increase feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, and foods high in tryptophan, such as bananas, turkey, beans, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, are especially important as it is a precursor to serotonin. In addition, opt for complex carbohydrates, like oats, wholegrain rice and quinoa, and follow a low GI (glycemic index) Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish.” GP Dr Rupert Critchley (vivaskinclinics.com) also suggests being wary of overeating and drinking too much: “Overindulging can make you feel tired and lethargic while alcohol is a depressant and can make stress and anxiety harder to deal with.”

Lighten Up

“Reduced exposure to daylight over the winter months is thought to play a crucial role in low mood and energy levels as it disrupts our circadian rhythms and reduces the production of serotonin,” says Hannah. “Ensure that your work space is light and airy and try to sit near a window when possible. You could also consider investing in a SAD lamp to mimic natural outdoor light or a daylight alarm clock, which gradually wakes you up by emulating the sunrise, to help you get up in the morning. Once you’re out of bed, open your curtains immediately even if it’s still dark to let as much light in as possible.” Honey adds: “Try waking and going to sleep an hour earlier than you usually would during the winter months to maximise your exposure to sunlight.”

 

Give Yourself Some TLC

“I would recommend booking a trip to your local spa or beauty salon for a relaxing massage, as this will increase your circulation, warm up your body and boost your immune system by improving blood and lymph flow,” says Helena Grzesk, spa director at The Spa At The Midland (qhotels.co.uk). “Regular massage aids wellbeing by triggering the release of serotonin and endorphins and relieving stress, and with so many types available, from hot stone to aromatherapy massage, you’re certain to find the perfect pick-me-up to suit your individual wants and needs. Sleep is also crucial for your mood, skin, metabolism and brain function, and a trip to the spa, especially one that offers sleep-focused treatments, will help you to relax and get some quality zzzs.”

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About Natural Health

Natural Health is your one-stop-shop for all things holistic! If you want to improve your wellbeing and learn the latest on complementary living from the world's leading health experts, alternative therapists and spiritual gurus, this magazine is for you!
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