Six ways to combat winter bleakness

Posted on: 07 November 2017 by 50connect editorial

Don’t let the darker days damped your mood and stay energised this winter with these top tips.

Winter blues

As well as the cold weather, rain and grey skies, the change in seasons brings with it winter worries. A new survey by traditional herbal remedy company, A.Vogel, found that the cost of winter fuel bills, Christmas looming and commuting in the dark, all add to the worry and bleakness of winter.

Dr Jen Tan from A.Vogel said, “As daylight hours reduce in autumn and winter, our levels of the ‘feel good’ hormone, serotonin, also decrease which can contribute to feelings of low mood. In addition, the earlier onset of darkness in our working day increases our levels of melatonin, the hormone we need to help us fall and stay asleep, making us feel tired and wanting more sleep. Low mood and tiredness combined with the usual stresses and strains of modern day living can have a detrimental effect on the body’s immune system making the winter a difficult time for many.”

Here’s how some of the UK’s wellbeing experts tackle the low mood during winter

Beat the blues  

Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist recommends: “Listen out and tackle any negative winter self-talk such as “it’s too cold to do anything”, “I always feel tired in the winter” or “nothing will cheer me up this time of year”. This type of internal chit-chat can affect your behaviour as it leads us to become isolated. This, in turn, impacts how much enjoyment we gain from the winter months. Replace these negative thoughts with positives such as “the cold is invigorating and energises me”, “It’s good to get outdoors and breath in cool, crisp air”, and “there is so much joy in winter when I look for it”. 

Being lazy

Exercise

Get active; One in 20 of those surveyed in the A.Vogel survey said they love the fact that they don’t feel guilty for not exercising as much in winter but it’s important to keep active during the colder months as exercise naturally increases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) and is vital to a sense of well-being.  

Celebrity personal trainer, Nicola Addison says: “I’m too tired, it’s pitch black, I’ll go in the morning, all excuses I hear my clients say when the winter months kick in. Let’s face it, exercise can be boring. Dragging a pal along with you will make it a lot more fun! Having someone along for the ride really does make the time pass quicker and the overall experience a lot more enjoyable.”

Eating more

Don’t overload on carbs; the survey revealed that that roast dinners emerged as the nation’s favourite winter comfort food. In fact, an overload of carbohydrates was apparent in all the poll’s food choices as a winter go-to. Alison Cullen nutritional therapist and A.Vogel Education Manager suggests: “Try cutting down on carbohydrates by reducing the amount you consume of white bread and pasta, processed foods, caffeinated stimulants, alcohol and foods high in sugar. These all cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate dramatically and negatively impact mood and energy levels. For a more balanced mood, focus instead on whole grains, legumes and good quality protein.

Feeling anxious

Stay connected; almost half of Brits (46 percent) confessed they feel sad that they won’t see their friends or socialise as much as they did in the summer. Isolation is easy to slip into yet over time it may exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression. Staying connected to friends, family or even a support group who understand and are happy to listen. Treatments available for anxiety overlap considerably with those used to treat stress. The main forms of treatment include some of those mentioned already above such as exercise, but talking therapies and learning relaxation techniques can help manage anxious thoughts, while herbal remedies such as Avena Sativa and Passiflora have a reputation for helping with the symptoms.

Always knackered

Woman sleeping

Tiredness can result from over-exertion or could be due to a lack of sleep. If you are madly busy then try to take things slower and find a regular time for rest and relaxation. If fatigue is due to physical exertion, Ginseng is a traditional remedy that helps you adapt to physical stress. The causes of bad sleep can be divided into two main categories and sleep is the one thing we cannot function without. Adopting a healthy sleep routine and making a few lifestyle changes will encourage the body settle at night, such as reducing caffeine intake in the afternoon, making your bedroom a dark ‘sleep sanctuary’, avoiding eating late at night and making time for an evening wind down. Herbal remedies can also make a difference such as Dormeasan Valerian & Hops which can help to restore sleep quality and Benenox Overnight Recharge which helps you recharge overnight and make the most of the next day.

Vitamin D

Finally, winter really is the time of year to invest in health top-ups, vitamin D in particular. Public Health England (PHE) advises that adults and children over the age of one should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D every day. 

Rob Hobson Healthspan, Head of Nutrition advises: “There are some great new ways to top-up on your vitamin D intake this winter as it’s not so easy to get this vitamin from diet alone which surprises many people." Healthspan new Super D Vitamin Gummy supplements and Fultium daily D3 drops work well for people who maybe don’t want to have to take another supplements tablet. 

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