Beating the lockdown winter blues

Beating the lockdown winter blues

It's surprisingly common to experience low mood, low energy, heavy sleeping and generally feeling sad during the winter months. There's an estimated 12million people across northern Europe thought to have SAD - Seasonal affective disorder - or, the winter blues.

And with the current lockdown restrictions, it's feared that this figure will only increase. If you find yourself slipping into the lockdown winter blues, try our top tips for beating them away.

Exercise

It's dark and cold, all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with the biscuit tin. But the best way of battling low energy and mood, is to force yourself to stay active. Research shows even a 15-minute walk in the middle of the day is enough to release serotonin, the hormone that helps lift your mood.

By avoiding that biscuit tin you also dodge the post-carb slump that inevitably follows. Low energy is so often connected to low mood, it's important to be aware of how the foods we consume leave us feeling physically. 

Light up your life

There’s not much sunlight around at this time of year, so it's important to get yours when you can. Sitting in front of a window, leaving your curtains open, getting outside in the natural light, can all help.

For the really dull days many people benefit from light therapy, where you sit in front of a lightbox for a certain period of time each day. UV lamps designed specifically to combat SAD, can help boost those all important serotonin levels.

Keep in touch

Although traditional socialising may be tricky at the moment, there's no reason not to stay in touch. Telephone calls, Facetime, Zoom meetings and even a good old fashioned letter, can go a long way to buoying your mood.

Make that extra effort to keeping in touch with family and friends. Share your feelings, because there's truth to the old saying - a problem shared is a problem halved.

Lighten your List

Is there a project or task you’ve been putting off? Begin by adding it to your 'to-do' list and then when you've done it, cross it off! Accomplishing goals can provide a great burst of dopamine, the chemical in the brain responsible for mood-boosting.

Low dopamine is linked to lack of joie de vivre and boredom, so clean out that sock draw and tidy the pantry. Not only will it be one less thing to think about, but it will boost your mood too. 

Eat healthy

While it can be tempting to indulge in comfort foods, research has found that people who consumed fast foods were more likely to develop depression.

Refined carbohydrates such as pizza, burgers, fries, give you short-term pleasure, but will make you feel more sluggish in the long-term.

More complex carbs such as broccoli, spinach and lentils, take longer to digest, meaning they don’t cause the sudden spikes in blood sugar that result in a crash later. A healthy diet is great for your body and your mood!

Keep warm

Being cold makes you more depressed. It's been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Snuggle up with a warm drink, a cosy jumper and your favourite pair of slippers, and you could almost imagine that you're basking in the sunshine. 

Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine, or so the saying goes. Studies have shown that laughing releases endorphins that help raise your mood. The winter months are perfect for snuggling down in front of a comedy film or curling up with a funny book.

Comedy podcast are also available, as are audio books, so indulge in some fun and laugh away the winter blues.