How to combat the Winter Blues, increase your energy and feel better

I wrote this article for my FB page last year and given it’s now November, the clocks have changed and it feels like the evenings are starting at 4.30, I thought it would be worth an update.

Many of my clients report feeling more tired, needing more sleep, losing interest in activities and gaining weight during the winter months. We often pass this off as the ‘winter blues’ and just struggle on, but true SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of clinical depression.

If you think you may be suffering from SAD your should see your GP, as it is very treatable. If however you just feel a bit low or lacking energy, here are a few tips that might help you fight off those winter blues as we head into darker mornings and evenings.

1. Maximize your daylight – whether that means getting up earlier to take advantage of the daylight hours or sitting near a window when at work, increasing the amount of daylight you get will help.

2.  Get outside – exposure to natural light won’t just improve your mood but will give you your daily dose of Vitamin D. Walk to work or jump off the bus or train a stop earlier. If you normally drive for the school run, park up a bit further from school and walk in – great for you and the children. Use your lunch break to get outside and breath.

3. Exercise – preferably outdoors. If you normally exercise indoors see what changes you can make. Walk, run or get out your bike. If you prefer classes, look for a fitness or boot camp class that is outside. Combining exercise with exposure to daylight will really help lift your mood and staying warm uses up extra calories!

4. Get a sleep routine – this is even more important for your body clock when you are going to sleep and waking up in the dark. Having a set time for these activities will help to regulate your body clock. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time for a week and see if you notice the difference in your energy levels.

4. Reduce your caffeine – you may think that the extra cup of coffee in the morning will help with your energy levels, but the reality is that it will just encourage more energy slumps later in the day. Try to swap some of your caffeine drinks for hot water and lemon, mint or herbal teas. Mint teas have the added benefit of aiding digestion, so you won’t get that post lunch bloat either.

5. Manage your stress – take part in fun activities, exercise (see above), spend time with friends, make a call rather than just texting, laugh, smile at a stranger, consider meditation or yoga to help you switch off and see how you can fit a random act of kindness into your day. Interacting with and helping others provides a great feel good boost.

6. Consider a dawn simulator light – these switch on before your alarm clock to simulate daybreak by gradually lighting your room. This can help regulate your body clock and help you wake feeling more energised.

7. Have a chat with your GP – if you are still struggling, don’t suffer in silence. There are a number of different medicines and supplements (like Vitamin D) that can help.