By Sophie Tupper, Third Year Psychology
As we approach what is meant to be the coldest winter of the decade, third year Psychology student Sophie Tupper offers some practical ways to survive those winter blues.
It is that time of the year again; summer is over, the jumpers are coming out, we have replaced ice cream with soup and the days are getting shorter. It’s not uncommon to feel sad, irritated or less energetic during this time. Darkness and cold weather can leave anyone feeling unmotivated and lethargic. Here are some tips any of us can use to feel a little bit happier during these winter months.
On cold and dark days, it can be difficult to force yourself to get out of your warm, cosy bed. However, getting up early in the morning will help you make the most out of the limited daylight there is. Staying up to date with work, university and social obligations also gives you momentum and keeps you busy which can make you feel better. Exercise has also been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and sadness so hit the gym or set aside some time to do some home exercises or yoga.
Get into the right mindset
In colder countries like Denmark, which experience some of the longest and bleakest winters on the planet, it is a custom to embrace the concept of ‘hygge’. This means that individuals should take winter as an opportunity to slow down, spend time at home with family and friends, and relax. You could also improve your mood by planning things to do later in the year, such as a holiday or trip in the summer. It is believed that the anticipation of travelling is more exciting than the trip itself.
Take vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood, maintaining optimum blood sugar levels and boosting our immune system. The main natural source of vitamin D is the sun, which is why we tend to feel happier and calmer on a beach holiday somewhere hot and tropical. Due to this, a large proportion of the UK population are vitamin D deficient during winter months and would therefore benefit from taking a supplement to prevent any changes in mood or immune system functioning.
Wrap up in warm blankets, get some fluffy socks and oversized jumpers and take full advantage of all hot drinks offered to you.
Spend time with friends
It’s so easy to hide away - literally under the bed covers - in your room watching Netflix and avoiding all responsibilities when it’s cold and miserable outside. This probably sounds lovely but trust me it will all catch up with you and you will just end up feeling worse after a while. Socialising with friends is so good for your mental health and can help ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to see your friends, even if you’re just drinking hot chocolate and laughing over the latest episode of Naked Attraction.
Healthy eating pretty much just helps with everything. I am sure it is not news to you that eating well and looking after your body makes you feel better. This is a really important one, so despite it being pretty obvious, I am putting it on here. Make sure that you are eating vegetables and fruit as well as your mince pies and chocolate – it will boost your mood and give you more energy, promise.
Photo by Epigram / Jasmine Burke
I hate being cold and it is a known fact that being cold can make you feel way more depressed, so stay warm to try and reduce the winter blues. Wrap up in warm blankets, get some fluffy socks and oversized jumpers and take full advantage of all hot drinks offered to you. Nobody is happy when they are cold.
Talk to someone
If the winter blues, or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is something that you struggle with every year, do not be afraid to go to your local GP and talk about it with them. SAD is a type of depression that occurs in the winter due to fluctuations in hormones that are sensitive to sunlight. Speaking to your doctor about your symptoms can help you find the right treatment plan and manage the disorder through this difficult time until summer again. You could also open up and talk about how you are doing with a close friend or family member. Chances are, they have probably felt the same way or similar in the past and may have some tips or stories to share with you.
Featured Image: Unsplash / freestocks.org
How do you deal with the winter blues? Do you have any further tips? Comment below or get in touch!