Have you come out the tail end of winter feeling a little low? All those grey days and long, cold nights can have a negative effect on body and mind, so here are some timely tips to help lose the blues, and put the spring back in your step…
It’s not unusual to feel out of sorts at this time of year. Having spent the cooler months inside, hibernating (binging on Netflix and eating way too much comfort food!), you may have emerged sluggish, with less energy, feeling less social, out of the habit of exercising, and either having trouble sleeping or wanting more sleep than usual.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to science, seasonal mood shifts are common. Most of us experience them to some degree. And as it turns out, the key culprit for the psychological and biological dip over winter is lack of light. Our bodies are responding to the fact that the sun’s gone into hiding.
It all comes down to our internal timekeeper - the ‘circadian clock’.
This tells us (on a subconscious level) when to go to sleep and when to wake up. It also regulates bodily systems such as temperature, metabolism, hormone release and mood. When there’s less light during the day, some of the processes affected by the circadian clock, like the ones that influence mood, get knocked about.
The good news?
Spring is here, and the days are getting longer. Which means more light, more sunshine, and subsequently, a subconscious lift in energy. And that’s without even trying! Even better news - you can supplement your natural ‘springtime high’, and fast track your way to a happier place, with these quick, practical tips, for boosted health and vitality. So 1-6, here goes:
1. Step out.
If the sun’s out, make the most of it. Throw open the curtains, doors and windows, take a walk outside in the beautiful fresh air – or better still, find a comfy spot in the backyard or on the deck, and kick back while soaking up some rays. It’ll definitely lift your spirits, boost your serotonin levels and relax body and mind. (But PS: don’t forget the sunscreen!)
2. Work out.
There’s positive proof that exercise is a massive mood enhancer. And the more you do it, the more motivated you become. If you’re out of practice, or feeling particularly unfit, take it in small strides to begin with. A short walk, some gentle stretching and breathing, a dip in the pool or ocean and yoga will do the trick.
3. Eat well.
Mmmmm. That big bowl of pasta and those warm, oven-baked brownies may be calling your name, but remember simple carbs and sugars can spike blood sugar levels, then bring them down with a crash (and your mood will follow). Aim for a diet of nourishing, natural, unprocessed foods – mostly plant-based – but with some protein, unrefined carbs and good fats at each meal. Your body will thank you for it.
4. Take a tech-break.
It’s hard to imagine a world without mobiles, laptops, tablets or TV. They make our lives easier, yes - but the problem is, they’re taking over. It’s not unusual to be ‘on call’, online or on a screen for the majority of the day. So once or twice a week, try walking away completely, and let yourself just ‘be’. Cutting back on screen time will help your sleep patterns considerably, and contribute to your sense of self, health and wellbeing.
5. Celebrate loved ones.
We’re social creatures, that’s a fact. Studies have proven that people who live alone, in isolation, tend to have a reduced life expectancy – which just goes to show how important family and friends are, and how essential it is to have human contact and connection (belonging). So call up your loved ones, organise that get-together and get social! The time to do it is now.
6. Count your blessings.
Life can be tough. But as your Mum probably said, there’s always someone worse off than you – so be thankful! When we practice gratitude we rewire the brain, lifting ourselves out of the mind’s habitual feeling of ‘not enough’ and into the joy of sufficiency. Every night before you go to bed, why not try writing down at least three things you're grateful for. Research shows that people who do this get happier almost immediately, and stay happier for as long as they continue the exercise. Start this evening – and see how you go.