Beating Winter Blues And Building A Better You

by Elliot Bratby of ReadElliotReid.com

When winter hits with full force, we’re all going to try to beat those winter blues by looking for warm, cosy places to hide. And chances are, if you’re like the rest of us, as the temperature falls you could do with a few tips, not just to stay dry but also to keep your spirits high.

So here are ten of the best things you can do to survive the Winter months, and maybe even come out the other side a better you!

1. Get some sun

Beat Winter Blues

Maybe this is the most obvious tip, but it deserves to be said. As the mercury drops, we all want to spend more time inside, and that’s fair. But we humans need vitamin D, and we get most of it from sunlight. So if the sun is out, try to get into it for 15 minutes to half an hour a day (remember to be mindful of skin care and protect yourself from cancer).

If it’s going to be dark and grey for the whole season, stave off those winter blues by reaching for a vitamin D supplement or consider investing in a light box to help you start your day.

Here’s some information on light boxes:
http://wakeupbright.com.au/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298?pg=2

2. Exercise

WinterBluesOutoorExerciseGetting your heart rate up in Winter has so many benefits!

Firstly, it’s a way to up your body temp. Plus the chill factor is a definite stimulator to get moving. Doing your cardio out in the elements is a great way to multitask- you get your daily dose of sun and get your heart pumping at the same time.

Studies have also shown that jogging for about three hours over five days can improve depressive symptoms. This study posits that coupling exercise with a bright light source will have a positive effect on mood, cognitive function and even how you relate to other humans!

Another solid reason to bust out the active-wear is that, for those of us who wouldn’t mind looking better at the beach in summer, we’ve got work to do before things start heating up. Pushing yourself to lose that couple of extra kilos through Winter means that come summer, the world gets to meet a happier, healthier and maybe more attractive you!

3. Brighten things up

On top of needing vitamin D, humans naturally like lighter, brighter spaces. Having a well-lit home can dramatically improve your mood and general mental space. This Winter may be the perfect time to scrub your windows, prune your roses and let the sunlight in (especially when we get so precious little!).

Bright room with roman blinds

Roman Blinds from Blind Elegance

If you take a look and realise that you could do with more versatile, stylish or simply newer blinds or awnings, somewhere like www.blindelegance.com.au would be a great place to start.

Rock Salt LampOr maybe you could think about redecorating and add some lamps to your living spaces. One particularly beneficial investment is a Himalayan salt crystal lamp. These little wonders not only give off a comforting, warm light, they also improve your home’s air quality and are a nifty way to beat the winter blues.

4) Get up and get at it

WinterBluesCarpeDiemNo-one wants to get out of bed on a good day, but even the best of us truly struggle in winter. Hit snooze once, and who could blame you? Seven snoozes later and a hearty debate about whether we really need that job and maybe we’ll pull back the covers. Nope, too cold, try again later.

But here is the hard truth – interrupted sleep isn’t good rest, and wasting your mornings will definitely make your morale plummet. A sleep in on a Saturday when you legitimately need it is ok, but you need to keep that in the ‘treat’ cupboard.

Staying awake when your alarm goes off will stave off that fatigue and foggy mind, and being strict with your time in bed will help you live life and be productive, both of which will genuinely give you a positivity boost and brighten your Winter.

Fighting the snuggly comforts and getting up-and-at-it will gird your positivity in the long run.

5. Go and get the newspaper

Well, maybe not. But if you get outside within two hours of waking up, the fresh cold and natural light will keep you from those sluggish blahs and put energy into the rest of your day. The human brain feels happy when it recognises that it’s achieved something. The best path to achieving something every day and enjoying healthy levels of dopamine starts with getting outside, letting winter slap the sleep out of you, and then getting to whatever it is that you’ve got planned.

Don’t ever think you’ll be productive lying in bed. Let your mind focus on what it needs to, by really waking it up.

6. Be social!

WinterBluesBoardGames

Pyjamas, pillows and blankets should never be a barrier to true happiness, so remember to keep cosy with good company.

Pull out your board games, swap one with a friend or go out and buy something new! A good game brings people together, really gets your brain going and should be able to vary each time you play.

Fondue. It’s warm, and food is one of the most natural social instigators. Plus, strawberries dipped in melted chocolate is delicious!

Or you could pick a director and work through some of their films from oldest to newest, and see if you can pull out common themes and changing styles. The benefit of that method is that you have a dozen nights’ plan sorted (each weeknight with the family, or once a week with a group of friends), and you won’t waste time arguing about what to watch.

7. Choose Healthy Foods

WinterBluesHealthyFoods

It’s good to remember that overloading on simple carbs and sugary snacks will make you feel gross, offering nothing nutritionally, and will just make you fatigued when you crash from your sugar high. Plus they undo all the hard work you’re putting in now that you’ve started exercising (you remember, point 2?)

Give your body the good, nutritional energy that it really wants this Winter – complex carbs (sweet potato), protein (chicken) and lots of green veggies. Go crazy and try a whole baked dinner, experiment with some soups and stews (kangaroo is lean and local) and try some whole grain pasta. You don’t have to be sick to have chicken soup.

A poor diet can leave you down in the dumps even in the summertime, so don’t hamstring yourself when you’re trying to beat those winter blues.

8. Limit your caffeine

WinterBluesCaffeine

This may seem backwards, but it’s going to leave you with more energy if you don’t chow down in Caffeine town.

The Caffeine molecule looks similar to the Adenosine molecule, which paradoxically causes the onset of drowsiness. Caffeine’s little trick is to bind to the Adenosine receptor, reversibly blocking Adenosine’s action and consequently preventing the onset of drowsiness. This may seem like a good thing but as with all stimulants, it comes at the cost of coming down hard at some later point. Keeping your energy drinks and coffee on the down-low will leave your spirits more consistent.

Keeping your energy drinks and coffee on the down-low will leave your spirits more consistent.

Also, since we tend to drink less water when it’s chilly, but too much caffeine can actually dehydrate you and an artificial high will have more negative effects on your efforts to beat those winter blues.

9) Start a project

WinterBluesVegetableGardenFind something within your means and your interests and go for it!

Puzzles are fun, challenging and engaging, plus they can last almost the whole cold season. Maybe start working on a crochet blanket, or knitted scarves for next year.

Put together a veggie garden and find out what you can start planting now (http://www.gardenate.com/?month=8).

If you have the tools to get into some woodwork, maybe start building a bookshelf or coffee table or a birdhouse for spring.

A project is perfect for giving you something to do when you can’t go outside. It gives you a goal to work towards, and we all need the satisfaction of achieving things!

It means that instead of hibernating all winter and picking up our lives again in Spring, we can be productive while we wait for the sun.

10. Read more. (Or read at all)

WinterBluesReadingWe all want to escape the Winter blues and feel good, and a part of fighting this battle is taking every opportunity to be a better you. It’s one thing to feel good, it’s another thing entirely to feel good about yourself.

This winter, and every other season, you have an opportunity to choose to be a better, deeper, fuller person, and a more valuable addition to the world around you, so learn something new.

Start a book club with some friends, to hold each other accountable. Put together (or find online) a list of quality, edifying books and work your way through it. True classics, not cheap trash. Alternatively, pick something you want to learn about, like the history of Japanese religion, or how a combustion engine works.

You might hold yourself to an hour a day, or a number of chapters (or pages), but really push yourself, as the benefits are phenomenal.

Increase your vocabulary (it’s always fun to discombobulate your friends with big words). Become more cultured. Feel accomplished when you finish each tome. Keep your mind active.

Books are incomparably better for your brain than TV (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-does-watching-tv-vs-reading-a-good-book-do-to-your-brain.html) Go on countless adventures in the winter, without even leaving your home! You can come out the other side of winter being a richer, more intellectual and more vibrant person if you set a goal and work to it.

The point is, whether it be through books, exercise, creating things, setting and achieving goals (self-control), redecorating or making new friends, use your battle against the winter blues to forge someone new, and push yourself to become a better you.

Author Bio: Elliot Bratby of ReadElliotReid.com, is a writer interested in making simple improvements to house and mindset.

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