Back in 2017 I wrote an entire post detailing all the reasons Why I Hate Autumn/Winter. However, as the years pass, the biggest lesson I've learnt is to embrace winter rather than try to fight it (because you're not going to win, anyway).
Luckily, there are some ways to make yourself feel better and possibly even start to enjoy this season.
This is the time of year we tend to catch more colds and flu, and since we're still in the middle of a pandemic, we should be extra diligent about keeping our immune systems strong to lessen the chances of getting ill.
Make sure to eat lots of vegetables - soups, stews and crumbles are perfect comfort foods for this time of year and you can pack as much fruit and veg into them as you like.
Also try adding warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cloves and nutmeg to your recipes. Check out this post to find out more about the health benefits of spices and how to use them.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it's important to take a vitamin D supplement this time of year as we don't receive enough UVB rays from the sun for our skin to produce it naturally.
Zinc is also a proven immunity booster, but don't take more than 40mg per day.
3. Keep moving
It's important to stay active during the winter months, even if you reeeally don't feel like moving off the sofa.
Find an activity or class you enjoy, grab a friend and get moving. Regular exercise (at least three times a week) is important for both your physical and mental health.
If you don't fancy the gym and it's too cold to go outside, there are plenty of workouts you can do at home - just go on YouTube and type in the kind of exercise you want to do and you'll find loads of videos to guide you.
Still struggling to find motivation? Check out this post for Ten Ways to Stay Committed to your Workout When it's Cold Outside.
4. Plan things to look forward to
Arrange a coffee date with a friend and RSVP to that party invite you received last week. Having a few fun things happening that you're excited about, and socialising with people you care about will help to boost your morale and overall mood when you may be feeling low.
5. But make time for yourself, too
Winter, and December especially, can be a very busy season. There's generally lots of shopping to do, events to attend and work to wrap up before you can have a few days off to enjoy the holidays.
This means that it's more important than ever to take the time to look after YOU. Creating a self care routine, whatever that means to you, is ideal.
Maybe you like to take a long soak in a bubble bath, read a good book or watch a feel-good movie. Whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed in the midst of all the chaos, do more of it.
6. Invest in a SAD lamp
Up to 29% of British adults, and an estimated 10 million Americans, are affected by seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression or the winter blues.
If you think you may have SAD or want to learn more about what it is, have a read of this post I wrote about the causes, symptoms of and treatments for seasonal affective disorder.
A SAD lamp simulates sunlight, which can trigger the brain to release serotonin, the feel-good hormone. It can also help adjust your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle during periods when daylight hours are shorter.
7. Get plenty of sleep
Good sleep is essential for overall health. Sleep helps our bodies produce proteins called cytokines which are vital in the growth and control of the cells that make up our body's natural defences. Lack of sleep can also affect our ability to fight off infections when we do get sick.
I strongly recommend reading the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker to truly understand the importance of getting a good night's sleep every night.
If you have trouble sleeping, don't turn to sleeping pills as these are just a sedative and don't promote truly restful slumber. You can try a number of more natural methods, such as taking melatonin, which your doctor can prescribe.
Taking a magnesium supplement can be beneficial for calming the nervous system and is often used for treating anxiety (I can personally attest to its effectiveness in this area) and, when taken at night, can help you sleep.
More than two thirds of the population of the western world doesn't achieve the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, so you may be deficient in this important nutrient without realising.
A weighted blanket uses deep pressure therapy to calm the nervous system, prompting a release of both dopamine and serotonin and a decrease in cortisol, resulting in you feeling more relaxed and more likely to fall asleep faster.
I hope these seven tips will help you stay happy and healthy throughout what can be the hardest season of the year for a lot of people. And if you're still struggling to enjoy this time of year, remind yourself that spring will be here in just a few months' time!
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