Winter is our natural time for rest and restoration. A time to hunker down and adopt a much slower pace in preparation for spring, the season of renewed energy and growth. Whilst this natural cycle is hugely restorative, not everyone is able to take time away from work and home responsibilities to fully unplug and recharge. I believe this is why we feel particularly tired during the winter season, as we continue to plough on through, trying to sustain the same level of performance as we do throughout the rest of the year. With the shorter, darker days and lack of sunlight, winter can also prove tricky for our mood, triggering feelings of low mood and in some cases, seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)
Read on for tips about boosting your winter wellbeing and how to cultivate your own little bit of sunshine in the dark winter days with a daily D.O.S.E of happiness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) & Low Mood
S.A.D is a type of seasonal depression that occurs typically during winter but can occur in summer too. Many complex factors contribute to developing depression, however, with S.A.D it is thought other factors such as: lack of sunlight, higher melatonin levels & a disrupted circadian rhythm (your sleep/wake cycle) can have an effect too. It is normal to feel 'low' on occasion but if you notice you have been consistently feeling low and not yourself for more than two weeks, pop along to your GP for a chat to see if you might be experiencing depression.
Other signs of S.A.D are:
lack of energy
finding it hard to concentrate
not wanting to see people
sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
losing interest in sex or physical contact
other symptoms of depression.
My tips for winter wellbeing below may help to cope with the feelings of S.A.D but you will also find some practical day to days tips over at the charity Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/about-sad/
Despite walking my dog for an hour every day, my vitamin D levels are very low and I am interested to see if some light therapy might help me through winter. There are many brands to choose from but I have just ordered myself a Lumie desklamp to see it helps improve and stabilise my mood - I'll let you know how I get on!
Getting your daily D.O.S.E of happiness
We can cultivate our own little bit of sunshine in the darker winter days by doing activities that boost our mood with a daily D.O.S.E of happiness!
D.O.S.E stands for the mood inducing hormones:
Dopamine - the instant gratification hormone
Oxytocin - the cuddle hormone
Serotonin - the 'high five' happy hormone
Endorphin - the 'natural high' hormone
This happy bundle of chemicals can be induced by activities such as: exercising, connecting with others, setting daily goals, getting a massage, having a good 'ol belly laugh - and even eating chocolate!
Head over to the Banana Tree Log to read more about how to get your daily D.O.S.E of happiness.
Tips for Winter Wellbeing
1. Don't wish winter away, accept its arrival and embrace it! 2. Find it difficult to get going on dark winter mornings? Set the tone of each day with a minute of mindful breathing. 3. Cultivate some gratitude every day to help you focus on what you do have rather than what you don't have. 4. Your financial wellbeing has an impact on your health so be mindful of your spending and find that balance between 'treating' yourself and others and financial strain.
5.Winter is our natural time for deep rest. Listen to your body and give it what it needs. 6. Connect with the beauty of nature and get your vitamin D fix by taking a mindful walk every day. Tune in to what you can see, feel, hear, smell and taste. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing! 7. Take time to mindfully plan and prepare seasonal, nutritious meals then put away distractions to practise mindful eating. 8. Stay connected. We may naturally wish to hibernate during winter but staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues is important. 9. Start a new hobby or re-engage with an old one. Give yourself permission to completely immerse yourself in the activity for a truly mindful experience and it might just boost your motivation for other activities too. 10. Helping others is not good just for the recipient but it also releases feel-good chemicals for the person helping too. What acts of kindness could you do? 11. Be mindful of your physical and mental health. Listen to your body, take action and reach out for help when you need it.
12. My gifts to you this Christmas are some audios to help you enjoy Christmas and winter as mindfully and calming and you can. Feel free to download the Mindfulness for Sleep, Body Scan and Breathing Space audios and share with your friends and family.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!
Lots of love,