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If the winter blues are hitting you a little harder this year, you're not alone. Millions of people in the UK suffer from this seasonal sadness, and that's without having to focus on staying sane and safe during a pandemic.
You may have heard of the winter blues being referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately shortened to SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Symptoms include feeling low, irritable, lacking in energy, and sleeping for longer than usual.
Fortunately, there are ways that we can combat these blues and all of the bothersome symptoms that come with it.
Exercising during the winter is easier said than done. Green areas are soggy and muddy, it's near impossible to see through the rain when you're jogging, and the overcast days aren't particularly encouraging! But the mental and physical benefits of keeping yourself active throughout the colder seasons are worthwhile. If you genuinely can't bear to face the cold weather, then a workout indoors will do just fine. There's a lot of options for indoor workouts these days, from exercise bikes to yoga flows, or even merely following a YouTube video. Exercise is also a great way to get yourself into a solid routine, which has been proven to be important for maintaining good mental health!
With the sun not showing its face as much as usual, we should all consider the possibility of taking supplements to keep us healthy until Spring. Of course, nothing beats the old fashioned way of obtaining nutrients through your diet, but sometimes an extra boost is necessary. Supplements that could help you combat the winter blues are:
Spending long, repetitive months indoors has undoubtedly made us all too familiar with our homely surroundings. It's more encouraged than ever to get some fresh air whenever you have the chance. So once the sun decides to make a brief appearance through the thick cloud, make sure you get outside and embrace it. Even when the sun is still hidden away, you can still enjoy the beauty of winter - though remember to wrap up warm! Not only will you get an extra dose of well-needed vitamin D, but the exercise will hopefully boost your mood and productivity, too. Even spending time out in your garden is better than nothing at all.
It's tempting to snack on sugary, fatty foods during the winter to pass the time and make your tastebuds sing! But eating too many unhealthy foods can negatively impact your mental health and wellbeing, not just your physical health. Equally, a healthy, balanced diet can be great for your mental wellbeing as well as your energy levels! With this in mind, try to nourish your body this winter with a range of delicious plant-based recipes, and experiment with new cooking methods.
Remember, balance is key! Although you should be careful not to binge on junk food, you should recognise the times when it's okay to treat yourself. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, even if you're on a diet!
Being isolated indoors and social distancing has certainly reminded us of the value of spending time with family and friends. As social creatures, humans are happiest when they're with the people that they love. Seasonal Affective Disorder might make you want to isolate yourself all day and avoid social interaction, but keeping in touch with others may help take the weight off of your shoulders. Talk through how you're feeling with someone that you trust, or just spark up a general conversation. You might find yourself feeling lighter afterwards.
Dark mornings, low temperatures, and short days leave us feeling lethargic during the winter. There's not much you can do outside, and there's not much you can do inside either due to social distancing measures. Instead of dwelling on what you can't do, try to find purpose somehow. Whether it's taking up a new hobby, reviving an old one, or setting a fun goal, finding this purpose will help keep you occupied and add variety to your days.
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