The shorter, colder and darker days of winter can make for a season that some of us find depressing. Here’s how to survive and thrive in the colder months and throughout the year. This article first appeared in Living Well magazine – free from your local Unichem and full of inspiration and ideas for living better every day.
When you’re feeling flat, this is when it’s most important to connect with friends and family. The evidence is clear, the more you withdraw, the worse you will feel. You might say, ‘That’s okay, I Facebook my friends all the time.’ If you primarily use texting or Facebook to stay in touch with friends, you’re not having meaningful contact with them. It’s the face-to-face stuff that counts. Invite your neighbour over for a cup of tea, visit a friend, join a community education class or help out on the school PTA.
Seize every opportunity to wrap up warm and head outdoors. Walk the beach, run the streets, hit the park with the kids. Getting out in the weather – any kind of weather – will invigorate you and help combat low feelings.
Keep a check on your alcohol intake – alcohol is a depressant.
Get help. It’s not always easy to know when the “blues” crosses the line into depression. If you’ve had a few weeks of feeling low or irritable most of the time, if you’ve lost interest in things that you normally enjoy and have noticed changes in your sleeping or eating patterns, make an appointment to see your GP and tell them honestly how you are feeling. Other potential warning signs include struggling with concentration and/or motivation levels, avoiding social contact and feeling like life is hard all of the time, and that there are no bright spots in the future.
Organise something to look forward to. Anticipating something pleasurable is a secret to happiness.
Chocolate is good. Yes, the science is on your side here. It’s believed chocolate with 70 percent cocoa or more helps boost dopamine and serotonin levels.
Treat yourself to some new accessories or a piece of winter clothing that makes you feel good every time you put it on.
Getting regular exercise is the most effective way to enhance your mood naturally. It decreases stress and anxiety levels, helps you to sleep better, and has the potential to make you feel more positive and energetic.