The clocks have gone back, the days are getting shorter and the trees are nearly bare. I can’t deny it any longer. We are quickly approaching my least favourite season of the year, winter! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas and I’m very partial to the odd bit of skiing (mulled wine included!) I’m just not so good with the dark, dreary, endless days that UK winter’s tend to bring. I’m pretty sure I was born in the wrong country and I’m really supposed to reside on a beach in Brazil, live in a bikini and never wear shoes again! (apart from maybe the odd night out in a pair of Choos!) However for now work keeps hubby and I here in the UK, at least in the winter and so I’ve been thinking of ways that, instead of dreading the onset of winter, I can embrace it and learn to make it my friend.
I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but I do find that I feel drastically different on sunny days to dark, dismal ones. You know those days where it doesn’t ever quite seem to get light? Having full-spectrum light entering our eyes has been known to have a positive effect on the brain and there isn’t nearly as much of this around in the winter months. Sadly we can’t all just hop on a plane to sunnier climes when the going gets tough but one thing that can help with the lack of sunlight is to purchase a light box for your home. Light boxes can be an effective treatment for symptoms of SAD disorder or just help with winter blues. SAD is caused by the lack of bright light in winter. Light entering our eyes stimulates our brain to control our daily rhythms through hormone production. In some people, the low levels of light in winter are insufficient to regulate the hormones that affect our waking and sleeping, our feeling energised or depressed. For a light box to be effective in treating SAD the light must be at least 2,000 lux (the technical measure of brightness), which is roughly four times brighter than a well-lit room. The best time to use your light box is first thing in the morning as it will decrease melatonin levels, leaving you feeling more awake and energised. It is recommended that you use your light box for at least 30 minutes a day. You can pay over £100 for a full-sized, high quality lightbox. Maplin currently have a mini lightbox for £39.99. Buy here.
I’m always raving about the importance of Vitamin D for general health and disease prevention and the wonder vitamin also plays a vital role in preventing and treating depression. Your body needs strong sunlight to be able to produce vitamin D and even on bright days here in the UK the sun is not strong enough to allow us to produce enough. If you suffer from poor health or depression in the winter it is probably worth asking you doctor to check your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test. The NHS will tell you if your test results fall within the “normal” range however what they consider to be normal is often far from what is considered optimal! Vitamin D can be supplemented during winter months.
Get outside! Particularly on days when the sun does come out to play. If you can make the time to wrap up and get outdoors it will always make you feel more positive. Be mindful! Look at the sky. Is it blue? Pink? Are the clouds rushing around? Check out the last of the amazing autumn colour on the trees or the leaves on the ground. This year has been one of the best for a while. I went out for a wonderful country walk with my daughter last weekend. It was bright and crisp and as we walked along we picked out the most beautiful selection of brightly coloured leaves to make a picture with. Red, orange, green, brown. Colour therapy in itself! Walking in fresh snow is another one of my favourites. I love how quiet fresh snowfall makes the world and there’s nothing more satisfying than laying fresh footprints in the snow!
I love gardening and one of the things that makes me most sad about the onset of winter is seeing my beautiful garden die back. I was pondering this the other day when I suddenly realised I had been looking at this entirely the wrong way! The garden doesn’t die back it simply retreats into itself in order to replenish and make itself strong again in order to burst out and flourish and shine again next spring! There is nothing wrong with laying dormant now and again. Don’t take too much on over the winter if you are not at your strongest. Look after yourself, rest and replenish and come spring you will be back to your strongest, most vibrant self!
Think sunny thoughts. Whilst it is great to embrace the current season and live in the present there is no harm in thinking ahead to the spring and summer and making plans. Now is always a good time to book a summer holiday or at least think ahead to one and start planning. I also like to read fiction set in the summer. A good book really takes you away from real life for a while and lets you be immersed in another time and place. I’ve just finished reading Summer at the lake by Erica James which is set on Lake Como and fully transports you to this Italian holiday paradise with all the sights, sounds and smells. I found it very a very relaxing and uplifting read before bed and left me thinking ahead to sunnier days to come.
Nourish. I always try to eat seasonally and winter is a great time to eat warming, nourishing food to “boost” you. This is one of the main principle of Ayurveda. Soups and casseroles also often contain many wonderful nutritious ingredients such as onions and garlic and seasoning like Turmeric which will all help to keep nasty bugs at bay! Winter is also a great time to enjoy some lovely warming teas and tinctures. I’ve recently discovered Pukka Herbs who have some really wonderful teas to help you stay warm and healthy. I especially love their elderberry and Echinacea tea for this time of year and also their wonderful elderberry syrup which is jam-packed full of ingredients that help to support the immune system. Click link below for special offer!
If you think you may be suffering from depression please talk to your doctor.