It’s getting cold and it’s getting dark. We’ve had it pretty easy so far with a mild autumn. But the clocks are now set: we must brace for winter.
It is so much more of a challenge to get out of bed in the morning when your room feels like an icebox and your duvet is so snuggly and warm! You may be lucky enough to still catch a few sun rays in the morning on your way to work, but that glimpse of morning daylight won’t last long.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an easy trap to fall into as we enter winter months. But it certainly is not inevitable. Here are 4 simple tips you must keep in mind to ditch SAD:
1. Go outdoors at least once a day
Unless you work outdoors, the likelihood is that you spend almost your entire workdays inside the confines of your office, gym, studio, workshop or classroom.
As the days get shorter, this will mean very, very little sunlight, if any at all. So make a point of getting outside during your lunch break. The sunlight will energise you, the fresh air will oxygenate your brain and muscles.
If you’re lucky, you may even catch a little vitamin D (although this is unlikely at this time of year, so you may wish to consider a high-quality vitamin D supplement).
2. Don’t skip your workouts
We all know the feeling. It’s warm inside; cold, dark (and wet?) outside. Who would want to ditch the blanket and step outside for a jog? It’s oh-so-easy to get lazy in the winter.
But physical activity will not only ward off anxiety and feelings of winter-depression, it will also boost your self-esteem, reduce stress and improve your sleep. So get out (or to the gym) and bag yourself an endorphin high!
If you exercise outside in the winter, a high-quality pre-workout energiser is essential. That’s because your muscles are less flexible in cold than in the heat.
3. Avoid too much comfort food
There’s nothing wrong with a bubbling tray of crispy-cheese-topped mac’n’cheese every once in a while. But make sure you are not foregoing micronutrients in the winter months. Remember to pack in the fresh fruit and veg.
Think seasonal, too: beetroots are great for juicing, and we’ll soon be hit with brilliant oranges and tangerines.
One of the best ways to keep your energy levels high during the day is to have high-protein foods. Protein’s primary role isn’t to create energy from food but rather to build and repair tissues, including muscles, bones, and skin. But it also slows down the absorption of glucose in your blood, helping to prevent crashing and making sure you have sustained energy.
If carbohydrates are the kindling of your metabolism, protein is the slow-burning old-growth wood that keeps you going.
4. Get enough sleep
What would happen to our sleep if we went back a couple hundred years to when we didn’t have electricity and certainly didn’t have digital screens? We would sleep less during summer, and more during winter. Lack of sunlight, high levels of stress, and you guessed it, too much comfort food will make you crave more sleep during the winter.
There is a balance to be found here: get some sunlight in during the day so you’re not going in full hibernation mode.
But don’t overdo it on a computer, phone, and TV screen at night (the blue light from the screen keeps you awake just like sunlight) so that you can give your mind and body enough rest to brave the colder days. If you often have trouble falling asleep, try a natural alternative like Unplug that nourishes the brain. Unlike regular sleeping tablets, Unplug doesn’t knock out but de-stresses and calms the mind (by nourishing it) so that you fall asleep on your own.