Beat the winter blues!

Beat the winter blues
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Beat the winter blues!

The start of a new year, for many people, is a time of promise and plans, resolutions and promises . However, January can be a very difficult time for some people intent on making a fresh start, but still suffering the after-effects of Christmas stress, and feeling the pressure of expectation as people around us embark on their self-improvement programs.

Beating the winter blues means having a plan, and there are three essential ingredients that need to be a part of it – daylight, exercise and diet.

Plan in some daily exercise that’s commensurate with your physical condition. Even a simple 10-20 minute walk every day can have noticeable positive effects on your mental health, not to mention your cardiac and pulmonary health. Keep it light and enjoyable, not long and gruelling. You’re much more likely to keep to your exercise plan if you can look forward to your daily walk, rather than dreading it.

Daylight is in short supply during the winter, so it’s important to make the most of it for your well-being. Lack of daylight has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that causes mood swings, anxiety, insomnia and poor appetite. Combining daylight exposure and exercise is the solution – make an effort to get out and about when it’s light, and you’ll get a double benefit.

Eat well. After Christmas, many people resolve to crash diet, but this can lead to more problems than it solves. The urge to wolf down ‘comfort food’ that’s high in sugars and simple carbs can be strong at this time of year, but you’ll benefit more from more complex carbs that will release energy more slowly and prevent energy crashes and sudden exhaustion. Berries like blueberries and raspberries have been shown to help reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as being high in vitamin C. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnut and flax seeds have been shown to help reduce the incidence of moderate to mild depression, aka “the blues”.

Plan for a good winter. Every week plan in some “me” time, plan some rest, plan some help or company if you need it. Winter will drag on if you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed or constantly on the back foot. We all need a break and a helping hand. Even if you have to change your plan, having one can be a comfort in itself.

Make a fresh start in 2017 but don’t burden yourself with unachievable targets and goals. Instead, pick one goal, and develop a realistic plan of smaller, more frequent achievements around it. Instead of resolving to lose 20lb by the end of the year, consider smaller goals like losing 2lb over a shorter period.

Don’t condemn yourself if you miss your goals: we’re all human and we all experience setbacks. But stick to your plan as closely as you can. If there are people you want to spend time with, plan a structured activity, like a walk or a visit somewhere, rather than simply sitting with them in front of the television.

If you’re really struggling to cope with just the dark days and cold temperatures, remember that a qualified hypnotherapy practitioner can help you build your confidence, resilience and self-belief – essential tools for beating those winter blues.

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Sheila Granger
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