Unless you are lucky enough to live under the California sunshine, it is likely that you’ve felt the winter blues at some point…
Even though we all know that true happiness comes from within, some of us are more sensitive to changes in our environment than others. A grey sky, dark mornings and freezing air can inspire feelings of Autumnal bliss, but then later that day leave us feeling miserable and lacklustre.
As a longtime sufferer of SAD I know this all too well. After churning through many dark seasons from my bed feeling no reason or desire to get up and face the world, I eventually made the link between lack of sunlight and my lack of motivation. It can mean more than just being a “sun-worshipper” and is a serious detriment to mental and emotional wellbeing for many – particularly if you are commuting to & from work in darkness only to arrive at a windowless office.
Born out of necessity, over the years I have discovered ways to make the transition from sunshine to snow with minimal impact to my mental and emotional health. For anyone else who can relate, here are my top tips for guarding yourself against seasonal changes in mood:
Accustomed to long stints of darkness and rain, the Danish know a thing or two about maximising their winters. When I read The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking, it completely shifted my perspective. Hygge is a feeling of cosiness and wellness which can be achieved whatever the weather if you have the right tools. Your hygge kit should include: snuggly socks, cosy blankets, hot chocolate, a good book by a roaring fire.
As you all know, I rave about my 5AM starts (seen here) but waking up to a black 0°C morning doesn’t make it easy on anyone! Luckily, there are now alarm clocks which will wake you up gradually by getting lighter and brighter so that you wake up feeling a little more refreshed and a little less startled… It is relatively inexpensive to benefit from light therapy at home by finding your own “wake up light alarm clock” online.
SAD may be due to Vitamin D fluctuations in our brain restricting Serotonin production. Light therapy will help with this, but taking widely available Vitamin D tablets will also fill up our reserves to help buffer against seasonal mood swings.
Much harder to do in the Winter, right? Especially when it comes to outdoor activities! But maintaining a regular routine with exercise you enjoy will keep your body well and the Winter blues at bay. If you can’t bring yourself to step outside in your running shoes, then during the cold months you can switch to indoor classes, hit the gym, or even do YouTube videos at home. You will feel so much better afterwards, I promise!
Sometimes the best remedies are found in Mother Nature, and this is certainly true of St Johns Wort. Like Vitamin D, this herbal remedy can help with depressive symptoms by boosting the production of neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Norepinephrine. St Johns Wort works best when combined with light therapy, and is a cost-effective method relative to its results.
Every day. No excuse.
Not only do candles provide the Hygge factor and bring much needed light into your home, but they look beautiful and give it an inviting sense of cosiness during the darkest months. Soy candles are best for the environment and my favourite ones have crystals in too for an added positivity boost ↠ Crystabelles Soy Wax Candles 🕯️
It can be so tempting to bear off and hibernate in the winter, but staying consistent with your exercise, diet, social life, sleep pattern and spiritual practice (note: gratitude!) will optimise your body and mind for coping well through the winter. If you’ve found what works for your wellbeing and productivity most of the time, then don’t stop! Stay consistent with what works well for your wellbeing and resist the temptation to call off your favourite pastimes due to the weather.
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And remember… there will be a new dawn when Spring comes and the sunlight will always return, but until then – you have everything that you need to get through it.