Lynsey Emily

Lifestyle, Health & Well-Being

How to adapt to the short winter days

It's a Sunday 27th October at 5.30pm and I've got the fairy lights glowing round the fireplace, Baileys in hand and it's pitch black outside. Is it Christmas yet?!

As the clocks went back one hour last night, everyone was joyous at the thought of having an extra hour in bed this morning. Yes it was glorious and when I woke up at 7.30am this morning the temptation to lay in was huge and having that extra 'time' to sleep felt so needed. 

But as we all know, with that extra hour of snooze, we've lost a chunk of daylight. I don't know about you but as soon as it starts to get dark I have the need to get into my comfies and settle down for the evening. 

It' commonly known that with the shorter days in winter and more darkness than sunlight, a lot of people tend to suffer with SAD (Seasonal affective disorder). It's a type of depressive state that tends to happen in the winter months, effecting our mood, decreased pleasure in things that we usually enjoy, craving big carby meals that slow us down and feeling like an overall sloth that just wan'ts to sleep all day and recluse to our beds. 

According to the NHS Choices website, during the winter months our melatonin increases (the sleepy hormone), our serotonin decreases (the happy hormone) and our internal body clock goes up the creek so we end up in a right kerfuffle.  

It's a transition we have to get used to every year. For me the winter months are actually my favourite time of year as I love nothing more than being cosy, we have Halloween, Christmas and New Year and then my birthday in January!  As Andy William's said- 'It's the mosttt wonderful timee of the yearrr' 

However I'm not immune to the darkness and SAD. I'm conscious to nurture myself during the winter months and ensuring to practice some good habits to reduce the effects of the seasonal change.
I've put together a few things that have helped me in past winters and things that I'll be practising this winter!

  • Invest in a wake-up light alarm clock- I've been using a light up clock from Lumie  for a few years now (This is not a sponsored post- I'm no where near that point in my career yet haha) What I like about it, is you can set it up to 'sunrise' about 30 minutes before you actually want to get up. It's a great way of naturally bringing you out of your sleep in the morning (just like the natural sunrise does for us!) and it's a much nicer way to wake up in the morning without the harsh wake up by your phone alarm in the pitch black. I find it much easier to get out of bed with the gradual light up in my bedroom. 

  • Avoid snoozing- Again the temptation to stay snug and in bed during these months is really hard to not do. Do you ever find that when you snooze you feel less motivated and the day tends to go slower? Try to get up at the same time every day, it'll encourage you to be more proactive, motivated and revitalised. Once you're up you'll thank yourself. 

  • Make the most of the daylight- When it's freezing outside it is very tempting to stay inside in the warm and not venture outside. But I urge you to take even just 15 minutes of your day to get outside and go for a walk. If you work and you're stuck in the office most of the day, use 10 minutes of your lunch break to go for a brisk walk. Soak up as much of that winter sun as you can, increase your serotonin and vitamin D levels and get some fresh air in your lungs. Nature is beautiful at this time of year, so put on your warmest clothes and get yourself out there! 

  • Continue socialising- This I can be guilty of not always doing. Night's in over nights out are always my preference (& in winter this can sometimes turn into day's in!). But it's important to keep social, get out during the day and do an activity you enjoy and see the people you love to be around. I enjoy plenty of 'me' time, but I have to consciously remind myself that i'll start to feel crap if i don't make a conscious effort to venture out of the house and do something with my day. 

  • Eat good food- I hope we can all agree that winter food is some of the best food, stews and casseroles with dumplings, big portions of hearty warm meals and plenty of carbs. Don't forget about your fruit and veggies! What you put into your bodies can have a big impact on how you feel. Whatever diet you follow , make sure you're eating nutritious meals to keep you energised and packed with vitamins. Your gut and mind will be happy with you! 

  • Exercise- Again I am guiltyyy of not always following this one haha. But it is proven that exercise makes us feel good and releases those endorphins (the feel good chemical!) and it helps to reduce adrenaline and cortisol (the hormones that  make us feel stressed). My favourite form of exercise is cycling, especially around Richmond Park which is my favourite place in the world. Whatever exercise you enjoy, do it and reap the benefits! 

  • Do one thing a day that you enjoy or makes you feel good- When you're in a slump it's really easy to let go taking care of yourself and getting into bad habits. If you struggle with SAD, try to do at least one thing a day that you enjoy. Whether that's reading, playing a sport or physical activity, having a pamper, or whatever it is that brings you joy. Do something for yourself at least once a day to spike your happiness! 

And if you're really struggling with SAD and the shorter and darker days, speak to someone you trust and don't hesitate to see your GP for support. 

Do you find the winter months affect your mood? 

What do you do to lift your mood during the winter? 

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