As we come to the end of summertime there is a sense of nostalgia for the long sunny days spent with friends, the early sunrises and the constant pull of the beach. The mornings get darker and colder… And we start to trade in that summer glow for evenings curled up next to the fire. For some, the drop in temperature and the slowing of life’s pace is welcomed with open arms. For others, this isn’t the case.
The truth is - the impact of winter on our mood is not so much a personal preference as it is a biological phenomenon. Lower levels of bright light, vitamin D and serotonin can cause changes in our mood and energy levels, as well as weight gain, excessive sleeping and in more severe cases depression. So how can we battle the winter blues and embrace the cosy times winter brings? Here are 5 ways:
01. Make sure to carve out time for YOU
When we are feeling a little low it’s easy to let the days run away with us and to put ourselves at the bottom of the list of priorities. Instead, carve out some time each day to relax, block out the hustle and bustle and reconnect to yourself. And what better way to do this than to have a lovely, warm bath with your favourite tunes playing in the background? Not only is this the perfect way to warm you up at the end of a cold day, bathing has actually been linked to improved mental health! The warmth of the water can reduce anxiety and stress by relaxing your body and mind. Want to take it up another notch? Set the mood for rest and relaxation by adding a soft, natural glow to the space with some flameless tealight candles.
We all know how tough it can be to wake before sunrise, let alone get up and head to the gym or on a run. Unfortunately, the benefits associated with exercise are so powerful that there’s no way we could leave it out! Whether you’re a yogi, runner, gym-bunny or a casual walker, exercise in whatever form boosts serotonin and endorphins - essential feel-good hormones that improve our mood, help us better deal with stress and leave us on a ‘high’. Working a workout into your daily routine is a sure-fire way to combat the winter lows that hit.
03. Set yourself a project
Now, we don’t mean go and create an elaborate project that is going to add stress and leave you feeling burnt out. None of that, please! What we do mean is find a small project that gets you into a creative space, which you can tap into in your spare time. Perhaps you want to spruce up your bedroom or liven up your living space? Or maybe you’ve got a bunch of photographs from the summertime that you’d like to display on some photo-clip string lights? Doing things you enjoy is one great way to feel better. When you experience pleasure, your brain releases dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone”... And we don’t know about you, but we want more of that!
04. Host a dinner party
There’s nothing quite like having delicious food with great friends to get you feeling loved, appreciated and happy. No, seriously: socialising is good for your brain health! Loneliness has been linked to a number of physical conditions - like heart disease and a low immune system - as well as psychological conditions like anxiety, depression and even Alzheimer’s. Gathering your friends around a meal is not just a way to boost your hormones and strengthen your brain, there are additional elements of sharing, caring and confiding that will make you feel seen, heard and supported, especially if you’ve been feeling low. So, pick the perfect recipe, set the scene with some solar lantern jars or warming bulb string lights and enjoy the company of your favourite people.
05. Go camping in nature
Camping or glamping, it doesn’t matter! All you need is some variation of ‘sleeping under the stars’. Spending time in natural elements does wonders for your state of mind and your mood. Sometimes it’s just about removing yourself from a stressful environment for a few days and giving your body the chance to relax and recuperate. Being in nature reduces negative emotions like anger, fear, and stress, but it also increases the positive emotions. You’re going to need: a friend or two, a tent, some camping lanterns for around the campsite and a good book. Find peace of mind in the quiet calm of nature this winter.
So there you have it. The winter cold doesn’t always have to mean the winter blues. Care for your body and your mind and embrace the cosy days - they won’t last forever!