During the winter months we can find ourselves wishing for warmth, counting down until spring and generally trying to escape. With winter days short, many of us simply work all the sunlit hours away at a desk, or, if outside, resemble the Michelin man, rugged up in layers to avoid the sneaky westerly winds and rain.
Are you suffering the winter blues? Read on to assess your current energy level and find out the difference between ‘relaxation’ and ‘hibernation’…
These down and blue feelings aren’t just the longings for the days of summer, but indicators of our body’s very real need for sunlight, and our natural avoidance of all things ‘outside’ in the cold, wet, and dark winter months! So fight the ‘SAD’s and break free from the winter blues with a few simple, well tested remedies!
1. Get some sunlight.
We know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D, but it might come as a surprise that it also improves our mood! With winter bringing shorter and generally darker days, most of us move into a mild form of hibernation – avoiding the outdoors and keeping inside. Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become a bit glum, with Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affecting many people – especially those in areas where sunlight lasts only 4-5 hours a day.
So get some Vitamin D this winter – spend a little more time outdoors, sit a bit closer to the window in the café and pull up your blinds in the morning and let the sunshine in. As well as being mood brightening, Vitamin D has many important health benefits – regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and helping support a healthy immune system. Getting enough Vitamin D is essential for normal growth, development of bones and teeth and, as an added bonus, helps resistance against certain diseases. Research has also shown that Vitamin D can help reduce the likelihood of developing the flu – there just can’t be enough said for a little bit of sunlight daily!
2. Perk up with an energy boost
And no, I’m not talking coffee! Getting the heart rate up, your lungs pumping and your body moving is a sure fire way of getting enough endorphins racing through your body to chase the winter blues away! Before you tune out completely, sensing another ‘fitness first’ blog post – a perk me up energy boost doesn’t necessarily mean slogging it out on a treadmill in a soul destroying, white walled gym, oh no, depending on your energy level requirements the prescription for an energy boost ranges to suit you.
Where to start? Use this handy table to determine your energy boost prescription!
|Current energy level||Prescription|
|Pretty good – just a little ho-hum on a Monday morning||Lunch breaks. Take them!Get outside for at least 10 minutes a day, find yourself a spot out of the wind and weather and simply breathe deep.Breathe deep through your nose, concentrating on filling your lungs all the way to the bottom. Feel your chest cavity rise, and your ribs stretch, and then breathe out through your mouth slowly.
Did you know… Lungs need a work out too! Lungs that are out of ‘deep breathing’ practice stop inflating all the way, and can stick together, meaning your air intake capacity reduces, and you have to take more breaths to get the same amount of air in. Simple breathing exercises help ‘work out’ your lungs, keeping them flexible and operating strongly, just like you’d work out your other muscles!
|Middle of the road – although a ‘perk me up’ coffee or tea is often required||Make tracks for your local park.Whether you work in an office, on the road or from home, a local park, beach, walking track or sporting oval is within reach.Walk, run, or, for the adventurous and young at heart, my favourite, skip – simply being outside and moving will give you a boost – but there’s something about skipping that brings the giggles on – and laughter is always the best perk-me-up!Have a weekend picnic, or eat your work-a-day sandwich, in the park and you will be well on your way to chase those blues away.|
|Struggle street – energy levels low, and winter blues have set in||Take a breather and make it count.Struggling through winter is no joke, and getting outside and breaking out of the normal ‘every day’ is a must, to break the gloomy cycle.Whilst we often save our longer breaks and holidays for the warmer summer months, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pack ourselves away for a longer weekend during winter.Couple your long weekend with a holiday which reinvigorates the mind and body and you won’t know yourself when you return!
Take a walk… a serious walk
The Surf Coast Walk, Torquay VictoriaThe Great Ocean Road, or any section thereof, is a winner when it comes to escapism. Feel like you’ve been transported as far from normal as possible, into a breathtaking landscape where the ocean kisses the sky.
The Overland Track, TasmaniaEnergy levels are sure to be revived walking any stretch of The Overland Track. Internationally renowned – doing even a part of this 5-8 day walk will awaken the senses. With Tasmanian air being some of the purest in the world – clearing your head and breathing deep takes on a whole new level of meaning in Tasmania
Burleigh Headland Walk, Gold Coast
Whales, surfers, seagulls – whatever your inspiration you are sure to find it in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Grab your Nook Espresso coffee and pick a sun-warmed rock to perch yourself on and take in the sounds of waves on the beach. There really is nothing like Queensland.
3. Kick back and relax
Sure, winter is all about the hot chocolates, lazy sleep-ins and brunches – without these, it just wouldn’t be winter! But don’t get confused with relaxation and hibernation.
- Relaxation = Curling up with a book and a cup of tea
- Hibernation = Losing 3 hours channel surfing
- Relaxation = Sharing a meal with friends and family
- Hibernation = Downing a Cadbury family block
- Relaxation = Sunday morning sleep ins
- Hibernation = Wake up calls from your boss. Oops.
Hibernation often means choosing lonesome over company (cue Country Blues song) and ‘easy and short term’ over ‘effort and long term’. And whilst lonesome and easy are good choices sometimes, keeping connected and plugged in to long term goals will mean a happier mind, and healthier body come Spring!
4. Listen to your mum and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
As simple as it sounds keeping hydrated has got to be the simplest way to escape all the winter nasties! During winter we can be tempted to replace plain old water with tea, coffee and instant soups – but tea and coffee contain caffeine, and instant soups contain HUGE amounts of salt, both of which dehydrate and leave your body without enough resource to flush away all the nasties people love to ‘share’ in winter. So top up your water bottle and try to aim for 6-8 cups of water a day – if you’re a heavy tea or coffee drinker, up the water intake – try to keep your plain water ratio 2:1 for every caffeinated drink.
And before you know it, winter’s a memory and spring has arrived – bringing all its sunshiney goodness and fun filled days. So don’t dwell in the winter blues, run or (should you need a belly chuckle) skip through the tail end of winter and meet spring with a smile!