Last year I started an exercise regime in summer so I could have it established throughout winter. And last winter was a lot easier. There are lots of free exercise videos on YouTube and other websites and they are wonderful if you don’t have the time or the inclination to go to the gym. If you take ten minutes out of your day to exercise you really do feel the difference in your mood. Or you could just go for a walk, which might help you get a bit of Vitamin D from the sunlight (if there is any).
2) Eat your vitamins!
Eat lots of whole grains, protein, and fruit and veg. I know that I would rather attack a mound of chocolates when I feel low, but these things will make you feel better in the long-run than the highs that sugar and alcohol can bring. It is more effort to cook food from scratch, to buy vegetables when you’d just rather order a pizza, but it is worth it. I find that if I eat a chicken stir-fry or a vegetable curry I feel a lot better than I would if I ate something from a cardboard box that I stuck in the oven. Yoghurt, fruit and tuna sandwiches work for me too.
3) Be kind to yourself…
If you don’t want to go to that office party then don’t go. You can overload yourself with obligations to other people. If you want to sit at home and watch Netflix then don’t be afraid to do so! Figure out what it is that you actually have to do and forget about the rest. Do what you absolutely have to do and be a bit selfish sometimes. Get some ‘me time’!
4) … but don’t hide yourself away from people.
Talk to somebody you trust about how you feel. Time to Talk day is a great day to start! I find that when I start to tell people about what’s worrying me, the worries become easier to manage. Perhaps it’s because they’re verbalised rather than constantly circling around your mind. I think that being with other people can get you out of your head. And anything that can get you out of your head when you have the blues is a good thing. There are always people you can talk to, even if they’re strangers.
5) Hug Animals
Animals are good. When I am feeling especially low I try to find a dog I can hug. Animals have less baggage than people. They tend to let you stroke them and never tell you to snap out of it. Studies have shown that they can alleviate feelings of loneliness and improve moods. Animals always live in the moment too, perhaps this is a reason why they can make people feel better.
So that’s my short list of things I do to try to improve my mood over winter. And I know that these things are hard to do if you are already feeling down. If you are suffering from something bigger than the winter blues then please seek actual medical advice and you could also visit the Time To Change website to see a list of (UK-based) mental health support services.