11 Tactics to Beat the Winter Blues
As the days get shorter, and that sweet period of waking up with the light comes to an end, it’s pretty common to feel our moods slipping into the darkness. It’s not unusual to suffer from the winter blues, and although it seems a little melodramatic (and British) to blame our mood on the weather, it’s a real affliction that can get many of us down.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. It affects 1 in 3 people and is a form of depression which comes on during the winter. For most of us, that’s not the case, and we’re just adjusting to the cold (but if you’re experiencing symptoms like loss of energy, change in appetite, tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, and irritability, then you can reach out to your GP.)
We first started looking into this topic, after reading this article on Healthline, which said to eat omega-3 rich foods to cure the winter blues. They referenced a study by the University of Pittsburgh which showed that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to experience mild symptoms linked to depression. There’s also been a bunch of research around CBD and the effects that it can have on your mood, working with the endocannibinoid system to keep you feeling healthy and energised.
But rather than just tell you to eat hemp and take CBD (but also do) we decided to put together some simple ways to avoid hibernation (and not just telling your bosses you’re allergic to grey skies and need to WFH – that’s ‘work from holiday’ in this case).
Here are 11 ways to beat the winter blues and all before 11am:
1. Create A Ritual
Winter is made for cosy rituals. Although it might feel difficult (read: impossible) to wake up and start your day before light falls, it’s actually the perfect time to get going. Set your alarm for an hour before you need to get ready, and allow yourself to slowly rise out of your slumber. Light a candle and do a round of stretching in bed, and maybe head to the kitchen to make your morning coffee/tea/smoothie. Perhaps you want to journal for 20 minutes, get on the mat, listen to a podcast or read a book – but having something to wake up for that is just for you can make the early mornings feels worth it.
2. Go Outside
Unless your job doesn’t involve you leaving your house in the morning (#thatfreelancelife), you’ll probably need to step outside in the mornings. It might be tempting to wrap yourself in a duvet and vow to never leave the warmth of your bed, getting that natural light is super important when the days are so short. Whether it’s walking to work (or as much of the way as you can), joining a running, cycling or swimming group, or just taking a 10 minute break from your screen to wander around the nearest park, it will do you wonders to feel the fresh air on your face.
3. Be Active
As Elle Woods once told us, “exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.” Take a class in the morning, go for a gentle jog or even just a walk, or if you’re feeling brave, hit the lido for a cold water swim to really shake off the cobwebs. It’ll give you energy for the rest of the day, promise! You could also try joining clubs that keep you active like Good Gym who run while doing good (sounds right up our street).
4. Get More Light
A big factor in SAD is that we don’t get enough light on our faces. No, we’re not suggesting hitting the sun beds – but you could invest in a UV lamp, or if you want to be a bit more hippie, a Himalayan salt lamp works wonders too. It will give you that dose of sunshine when the day is grim and grey outside.
5. Stay Warm
When we are more sedentary, our body temperature falls and that feeling of coldness definitely lowers our mood. Stay warm in the office – bring a blanket and keep it in your drawer, eat hot food at lunch rather than a sandwich or salad, and get the kettle on whenever you’re feeling chilly.
6. Eat A Wholesome Breakfast
Colder weather means warming bowls and steamy coffees or cups of tea (with hemp milk of course). Get your omega-3 in any way you like – hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp milk or hemp protein – and try adding some CBD to your morning smoothies. Research has also shown that sufferers of SAD tend to eat more carb-rich foods which can often deplete energy levels. It’s all about balance! Invest in an insulated container if you want to make your breakfast at home and eat it at the office so it stays hot, or keep supplies in your drawer. If you’ve got the time, you could go a bit rogue and rustle up an Eastern breakfast of soup noodles, daal with a poached egg or fried rice (ie: making it acceptable to heat up leftovers from the night before).
For a real treat to start the day with, try out this vegan recipe for hemp seed streusel muffins, contributed to London’s Sustainable Food Delivery Guide by Izy Hossack from Top with Cinnamon.
7. Calm Your Mind
Meditation can be a really great way of keeping you present and distracting you from the weather outside. If you’re new to it or prefer guided meditation, apps like Calm or Headspace are great for leading you through short practices.
8. Keep Busy
Making plans will help you get up and go – arrange to meet friends for a pre-work coffee, a walk in the park or a workout class. You could start up a breakfast club with friends in your neighbourhood, taking it in turn to host early morning meals, because #teamworkmakesthedreamwork.
9. Set Your Soundtrack
Sometimes waking up to total silence when it’s still dark outside can be a bit of a mood killer. Curate a playlist of bangers that is guaranteed to get you smiling (and maybe grooving?) – pop it on as soon as you wake up in the morning.
10. Get Some Rest
Getting a good night’s sleep will help your mood ten fold – a lack of sleep mixed with leaving the house in the dark to catch the tube = no bueno. Sleeping well makes getting up way easier.
11. Talk To Someone
Sometimes we can do all these things and our mood still won’t shift. That’s totally ok. Morning therapy sessions, whether it’s in person, over Skype or even just a chinwag with family and friends – can help lift your mood and encourage you to get to the root of the problem (or make you realise you just need to book that long weekend to Portugal).