Our friends at Healthspan give us some top tips on how to manage your mood during the winter months.
As winter fully rolls in and January has been and gone, there’s more temptation to stay close to the fire and spend longer under our covers where it’s nice and cosy; it’s important to remember that missing out on daily exercise that’s vital for good health can affect your mood.
Bad weather, money woes and wrecked New Year’s resolutions mean that our motivational levels can hit an all-time low, so checking in with your wellbeing can help you stay on top of your lifestyle and keep in good health.
Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director at Healthspan says “This kind of mood slump can lead to many unhealthy habits. Inactivity, eating too much and feelings of anxiety and stress can also have a negative impact on our health.”
Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is often dubbed as the ‘winter blues’, however it affects around 21 per cent of the UK population. It’s easy to assume that SAD is just longing for some sunshine, but this disorder has similar effects to depression and generally manifests when the days become shorter, becoming more intense during December, January and February until Spring begins.
While the causes of SAD aren’t fully understood by psychiatrists, it’s thought that the lower levels of exposure to daylight play an important role in affecting our brains, some studies have even found links between the low levels of vitamin D and depression, although more research is needed to establish a clear link.
- Keeping active, even when you’re reluctant to step out into the cold, helps to boost every bodily system, improving strength and balance, digestion, mood and even immunity. Exercise releases mood-enhancing brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, which help to keep you happy and content.
- Eating well is important all year round, but in winter you may find that you desire carbs, sugar and fat more; this is because your body craves food that promise an energy burn to warm it up fast. It’s better to indulge in slow-release carbs like root vegetables, as too much sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol can leave you feeling lethargic and lower your mood.
- Practice mindfulness and take time for yourself. Psychologist Dr Meg Arroll says, “Using mindfulness to be ‘present in the moment’ has been found to have numerus health benefits. Mindfulness not only helps with low mood, anxiety and can allow people to deal more effectively with stressful situations, it can also benefit physical health problems and give us the mental space to develop a sense of acceptance”.
Participating in your local parkrun is the perfect way to keep your mood in check, engaging with your breathing, spending time in the great outdoors and enjoying a healthy but delicious meal afterwards.
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