Many of us find this time of year difficult to negotiate. Those who live in the Northern Hemisphere at least get Christmas and New Year to break the monotony of winter. In New Zealand we have no public holidays between Queens Birthday at the beginning of June and Labour Weekend at the end of October. Winter can feel endless and miserable.
It’s not uncommon to feel less energetic, irritable and down in the dumps over the winter months. Here are some suggestions to help manage your mood despite the short dark days, rain, wind and cold.
Keeping active has been proven to make you feel better and can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Rugging up in your warmest coat, hat and scarf and getting out for a walk with the dog along one of the Kapiti’s fabulous beaches is guaranteed to be bracing and will make you feel good. If the weather is really too horrible, going to the gym, doing some yoga at home or cranking up Wii will also help you feel happier.
Winter has many dark, gloomy days, but turning on your lamps and overhead lights can help lift your mood. When you are at home or work, spend some time by a window to enjoy some natural light. Some people even invest in light therapy boxes to lighten up their lives.
Sunlight is a source of vitamin D – a nutrient linked to sharper thinking and better emotional health. The stores of vitamin D in our bodies can be depleted during winter, so check with your doctor about whether a vitamin D supplement could be helpful for you.
Stimulate your senses
Wearing bright colours or enjoying some painting (artistic or decorating) can be one way to cheer you up. Who needs clothes or surroundings that reflect the greyness of the season?
Make a book and movie list
If you can’t get outside so much, what a great way to while the weekend away by reading those books you haven’t quite got to, or movies that you have always wanted to see. This might extend to trying recipes you have clipped from magazines or have been given by a friend. How satisfying to finally have a go at creating delicious food that you can then share with others.
Eat good food
Winter is a great time for soups and casseroles made in the slow cooker. Many vegetables that make excellent soup are reasonably priced in winter such as pumpkin and kumara – yum! There is also lovely fruit available right now, such as apples and pears for delicious winter crumbles and pies.
Hold a mid-winter Christmas event
We do this with friends every year. It’s way easier to organise than actual Christmas and much less stressful! We have a beautiful dinner with all the trimmings including pavlova and Christmas pudding, mulled wine and re-gifted or home made presents. It’s really fun and all that tradition seems so much more sensible in winter.
Take a mid-winter break – somewhere sunny
If budget allows, a holiday in the Islands or Australia is a wonderful way of side-stepping the worst of winter. Even if you are only away for a week or 10 days, you will come back fresh and invigorated with less winter to get through than when you left!
Sit by a fire
There's something consoling about staring into the embers and warming your hands by a fire. But if you don’t have a fireplace in your house you can borrow someone else’s — even a coffee shop’s. Alternatively, you can simply light a few candles and enjoy a primal moment to remind you that you belong to this world of human beings that have sat around fires for thousands of years to get warm and enjoy a moment of stillness.
Seaonal Affective Disorder
Despite trying a variety of activities, some people’s mood is so affected by the dark, cold weather during the winter months, it impacts on how they can live their lives. Below are some signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you think you or someone you know is dealing with SAD, it’s important to speak up or reach out to a mental health professional who can help create a plan for overcoming the depression.
Signs & Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
• Loss of energy
• Changes in appetite or sleep
• Weight gain or loss
• Trouble concentrating
See https://depression.org.nz/ for more details.
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