Winter might seem like a distant memory now and the warmer days and aroma of blooming flowers are certainly an uplifting part of spring, but are you feeling sluggish or agitated?
Are you still tucking into those high-carb meals filled with bread and pasta and rice? Are you still craving sweets and chocolate? Is your winter coat of extra kilos still clinging onto your tummy, hips and thighs?
Maybe you’re having trouble sleeping or feeling emotionally low with no energy and you have lost interest in things you once really enjoyed.
If you’ve answered yes to all or most of my questions then you could have a case of the ‘winter blues’.
Collins Dictionary defines ‘winter blues’ as; a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness associated with experiencing the cold and darkness of winter.
The Mayo Clinic has a more clinical definition – seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and describes it as a type of depression that is related to changes in season and can start in autumn and continue through winter, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. SAD can sometimes cause this depression to continue into spring or even early summer.
Interestingly, SAD is diagnosed more often in women than men and seen more frequently in younger than older adults.
Tips to shake off the ‘winter blues’
- Worship the sun (with sunscreen of course).
Light therapy is used successfully in numerous countries around the world to replace their constant lack of sunlight and help lift ‘winter blues’, but in Australia we are very lucky to have so much of the real thing. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine whenever you can.
- Listen to music.
Listening to your favourite songs and singing out loud have the ability to change your mood in minutes. Put together your playlist of tunes that inspire and uplift you.
- Cook fresh and wholesome
Instead of ordering take-away again, try cooking yourself a simple dinner with fresh seasonal ingredients. You’ll improve your cooking skills while eating cleaner. Be sure to avoid high-processed foods as much as possible. Drink plenty of water too.
- Get together with friends
Surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones is always a mood lifter. Don’t wait for a special occasion to throw a party or a small get together or to plan a trip away together. Socialising and making positive human connections have been proven to help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Having said that, if your life is always hectic and you barely get time to scratch yourself, then allow some ‘me’ time and indulge in doing nothing from time to time. Occasionally retreating from the rest of the world can actually have an invigorating effect on you.
Catching up on sleep is imperative for your body and brain to repair and recharge. Ideally, you want to head to bed early and wake up with the sun.
- Exercise (outdoors if possible)
Regular exercise is the key to good health and well-being and working up a sweat is the greatest natural mood elevator.
If you can continue an exercise regime like brisk walking all year round you’ll help stave off the ‘winter blues’. Play your favourite tunes along the way for an additional lift.
- Pamper Yourself
Give yourself some TLC (tender loving care) for a change.
A steam sauna or hot bath can help relax those tired muscles and built-up stress, and release toxins. Be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated to help flush the toxins away.
Try exfoliating, using a face mask and steaming your pores to make your skin glow and the benefits will be magnified if you start exercising more as it will increase blood flow to the skin.
- Do something different
Check your local paper or community billboard for group activities or free events you can attend. It might be a local theatre show or an arts and craft workshop in the park, it is always fun to try something different and is a relaxed way to meet new people and get you out of the house.
The ancient yogis believed that we are one with nature and in order for us to evolve and stay healthy, like nature, we need to diversify.
Are you living out of habit because it’s easy?
Try shaking up your old routines and rituals and be creative and plan a variety of new projects to focus on and to get excited about.
- Do a technology detox
While social media has its place in society and can keep you in touch with loved ones the world over, if it’s now become a mega distraction and you’re missing out on what’s going on in the world around you or time on your tablet is consuming far too much of your waking moments, then perhaps it’s time for a detox.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a recognised social anxiety and described as a compulsive desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing online.
Set yourself some time limits and try turning your devices off for a short while, trust me, it won’t be the end of the world. Instead of texting or calling a friend, why not make a date to meet up with them and enjoy their company over coffee at an outdoor cafe.
- Get a makeover
If you need a lift and feel you’re in a rut, think about getting a new hairdo.
If that’s too radical, why not go to one of the make-up counters in your local shopping centre or department store and let the talented trainer make-up artists give you a makeover.
It’s great if you’ve never really worn make-up before or you aren’t skilled in that area, as you’ll pick up lots of great tips and it will give you a chance to see if you like the look they’ve created. By the way, these make-up artists’ primary job is to sell you their products but don’t feel obliged to buy them, especially if you wouldn’t use them.
Go through your wardrobe and pick out, and start wearing all the clothes that make you feel great or you get compliments about from others whenever you’re in them.
- Set Goals.
Time seems to fly past so quickly these days, which is why it’s important to set goals and deadlines. Summer mightn’t be until the end of next month but it will be here before we know it.
Whether it’s to get your body swimsuit-ready or completing a particular project that’s not fitness related or you’ve set yourself a financial target, there’s no time like now to start and get motivated.
If it’s a rather ambitious undertaking, try breaking it down into smaller tasks that you can do between now and your summer deadline. You’ll be amazed how mood-boosting these small accomplishments along the way will be and it will increase your overall chance of successfully achieving your ultimate goal.
- Seek professional help
If nothing you’re doing is lifting your mood and your symptoms of depression have lasted for a prolonged period of time, then it’s time to seek professional help. Talk to your primary medical professional or contact the Australian Menopause Centre to see if its hormone related.
October is about trees revealing colours they’ve kept hidden all year. People have an October as well. – J.M. Storm author
I hope my tips help spring you into summer.
If you haven’t read my gut health article here’s a link;
Susie Elelman AM – AMC Ambassador Author, Radio & TV Broadcaster