I hate winter. Dark days and chilly weather all result in a lethargic outlook, cool moods, and general desire to hide away. We can’t stop winter, but we can undertaken action to make it have less of a negative impact upon our moods, and perhaps even turn those dark days into positive ones.
Eating is one of the most comforting things that we do, not to mention utterly necessary for survival, but it’s important (throughout the year) to eat well and with the seasons. It’s tempting to reach for pies and pastries in winter, and whilst a certain layer of extra warmth can be needed (I refer you to any animals), the fact is we often add more than necessary. Root vegetables are full of nutrients and can be cooked in warming ways. Eat plenty of bananas, poultry, dairy produce, and peas for tryptophan, the amino acid required to manufacture serotonin; keep your uptake of carbohydrates up for warmth, but choose complex grains like brown rice, rye, and sweet potatoes; eat plenty dark leafy vegetables, nuts and yeast extract spreads, for Vitamin B, known as the mood boosting vitamin; and keep up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids to help fight off the blues, eating such foods as cold-water fish and flaxseed and walnuts
Use the indoor time to catch up creative and learning pursuits that may slip whilst in the outdoors during the summer. Museums and art galleries, the movies, libraries and theatre are all indoor activities and can boost different parts of your brain. Think of this as a time to spark your mind and expand your intellectual and imaginative horizons. There may be a pile of books you on your ‘to read’ list – now is the perfect time to get stuck in. Join a book group and learn and talk at the same time. Being creative opens up new ways of thinking by forging new neural pathways, and may mean that you start to view things differently – even seeing winter as beautiful.
We retreat to nurture ourselves in winter, crawling back into ourselves like hibernation – but it’s important to not do so too much that we become hermits. Make sure that you get out and see friends, even if it is just for a cup of warming tea or coffee. A phone call or skype call is one step if you really can’t face leaving the house, but inviting friends and family round for dinner a much more valuable experience.
Go outside, open the windows, and breathe in fresh air and Vitamin D. Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts an alarming number of people, but with regular exposure to the sunlight, even when the sun appears to be lacking, can help to ease symptoms. Some foods that are high in Vitamin D include salmon, sardines, eggs, cod, and milk, but one of the best preventative action is a short walk in the afternoon light. It really does boost the brain and the body, making the mind feel better.
It’s important to be active - but do so indoors if that suits you better! Exercising in the wind and rain is not good for the body or soul, so try rock climbing, swimming, indoor courts and pitches, DVDs for the living room, dance classes nearby, or maybe some yoga. It’s even better if you are taking up a new sport or skill – see winter as a time to do something new, not an ending and time of shelter but one in which to grow and thrive.
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