It’s winter time, and you know what that means! The weather has turned to shit, both cold and wet, your energy levels have taken a dive and you find yourself socialising and going out has stopped. What this can result in is the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children. Meaning you not alone dealing with this which i have have also dealt with personally.
- sleep problems
- feeling down and unsociable
Below are 10 tips that i used that were recommended to me by our NHS and how to incorporate them into your winter lifestyle and get you back to feeling like you.
- Keep active
“Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues”.
As i have mentioned in the past, walking is a fantastic form of steady state cardio, but if u can’t go out due to weather try jumping on your indoor cycle, putting a bit of tv on and cycle away!
- Get outside
“Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.”
Now this i found is very effective when combined with your morning cardio, since the feel of fresh air and natural sunlight can give a mental recharge! Again if u can’t get you butt out due to weather then try working/spending time near the window so u can get some natural light!
- Keep warm
“If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.
Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).”
Now keeping warm will help prevent you from getting into hibernation mode (sleep mode) and help you feel more energised, what i found is very helpful is enjoy hot cup of tea (without milk to keep the calories down) throughout the day and wearing socks (keep those feet warm) and a nice comfy jumper while at home.
- Eat healthily
“A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Now temptation would be to eat more and eat dirty, but i’m telling you from personal experience that eating junk food while dealing with SAD will only give you short term mood boost, then when you blood sugar drop you will need to eat another junk meal resulting in a bad cycle of eating, which will result in massive fat gains (i once gained over 10kg in a 2 week!) and mood swings.
- See the light
“Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day.
Light boxes give out very bright light at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting.”
Like i mentioned before i found that exposing myself (not that kind of exposing ;)) to natural sunlight help me feel more energized, so get out if you can, if not spend some time near a window and if there is no sunlight (it being winter) then studies have shown that a dawn simulator can help to.
- Take up a new hobby
“Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, says Pavlovich. “It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on,”
Ok guys, i know what you thinking, “i can just play lots of video games!” i thought the same thing to, and yes gaming can be socially thing but can also lead you to becoming quite isolating as it did with me, which made my SAD worse not better, so i tapered back my gaming and returned to training at the gym which was a massive help in dealing with my SAD since it got me out the house, keep me active and surround me with people.
- See your friends and family
“It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.”
Now like a lot of people when winter hits, i become a bit of a hermit, spending most my time alone. Now when it comes to SAD this is not a good thing and lead to my SAD getting alot worse. This was the most challenging since my closest friends and my time tables were always different (them being family people) and the weather being crap maybe it harder to get motivated to leave the house, but this can really help with SAD since having a friend or family to talk to can help you feel not alone and be fun!
- Talk it through
“Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available.”
Now if shit has hit the fan and you feeling super low and your mental health is taking a hit then seeking professional may be needed. First of, there nothing wrong with seeking help to help dealing with SAD, I have done so in the past and it has helped me massively since when talking to a professional there are topics you can talk about that you might not be able to speak about with friends and family.
- Join a support group
“Think about joining a support group. Sharing your experience with others who know what it’s like to have SAD is very therapeutic and can make your symptoms more bearable.”
Now joining a support group can help build your confidence back up, since you can get help and give help to real people who have gone through the same experience and being humans we always do better as part of a group.
- Seek help
“If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.”
Again guys don’t be ashamed of getting help, this was my biggest hurdle, since i felt like i would waste my Gp time and thought i should “just get over it”! But after seeking help i was able to bounce back thanks to the help my GP got me. So guy, use your Gp’s that’s what they’re there for!
Extra helpful tips!
- Keep clean and groomed
Personal hygiene is a very important to overall health and well-being, yes i been there! When you go days without showering and letting my beard and hair grow, and ending up looking like a hobo! But keeping yourself clean, shaving, trimming your body hair and nails can make you feel refreshed and feeling human.
- Keep your work-space and living environment Tidy
Just like with you personal hygiene, living/working in a messy/dirty environment can make your SAD worse and leave you feeling like shit. Again i speak from personal experience here, after clean my living area up i felt much better and more on focus!
So hopeful these tips will help you deal with SAD and the Winter blues just like they helped me, is there anything i missed? What helped you deal with Sad, leave your interesting comments below and lets have a discussions