Not to point out the obvious, but it’s cold, wet, and miserably dark (have you noticed?!). Whilst winter (particularly the lead up to Christmas) is usually associated with creating fun memories with family, celebration, and lots of eating, for a surprisingly large amount of people, it uncovers a darker side (like we need that this time of year!)
If you are feeling lethargic, having trouble sleeping, feeling generally low and craving carbs and sweet foods… you are not alone. You may be amongst the 2-3 million people in the UK alone suffering with SAD; Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as the ‘Winter Blues’.
But don’t suffer any longer, the battle can be won. With an insight to our valuable 4 top tips, you could just beat those blues once and for all.
Light up your life
Let’s start with the big one, light. Like most mammals in the natural world, the human body responds to light. As a result, our bodies are tuned into the daylight hours in order to maintain our circadian rhythms, the body’s biological clock. These rhythms regulate many important bodily functions, and without natural sunlight it provides many complications. If you’re human, chances are you’ve woken up on a grey, wintery day and wanted to stay in bed at least a handful of times!
It’s no wonder we feel less motivated, and even down during the winter.
What to do?!
- Make sure to soak up as many rays as you can as you, especially as you first wake. Open your curtains, step outside.
- If you work indoors, make sure to take a brief walk at lunchtime. Get some fresh air into your lungs, and some light onto your bones. Make your indoor space as light and as airy as possible. Sit near windows if you can.
- Get a lightbox (SAD lamp) which replicates sunshine and start a bright-light therapy
Get the inside right and the outside falls into place
Make a conscious decision at the start of the season to eat to nourish your body, and only to eat when you are hungry.
Serotonin is the “feel-good hormone” and is produced by sunlight. During the winter season, producing this hormone gets difficult, however by mindfully monitoring what enters our body we can help tremendously…
What To Eat?
In general, immunity-boosting foods include those that are fresh, organic, easy to digest, pure and wholesome. Foods that are hard to digest should be avoided if you want to increase your immunity.
Ease up on the coffee and salads too, it’s time to change it up with warm soups, homemade broths, hot herbal teas, and stewed fruit. Foods that nourish and balance the body in the cold, winter season are the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Warm, home-cooked, soothing foods. Cold, or leftover foods will diminish your digestive fire. Keep the heat !!
Use the power of your breath
Pranayama are breathing exercises that are fabulous especially at this time of year. They help to clear the lungs of toxins and any stagnant energy, and make the way for a lighter and more grounded you.
Breathing consciously is one of the most powerful tools you could ever learn to master. It is the direct path for us to communicate quickly to the brain via our body. Breathing not only oxygenates the body, but re-energises us and keeps our bodies alert. It also is 75% of the bodies detoxification process. Taking deep breaths supplies the brain with a good amount of oxygen, preventing mental sluggishness, negativity, and depression.
Practice deep breathing:
- Sit comfortably or lie down. Close down your eyes softly and start to notice your breath.
- Inhaling gently through your nose as you start to elongate the breath into the belly bowl, here feeling it expand like a balloon, and as you exhale drawing the navel back towards the spine. Working with the breath in this simple exercise to find relaxation. Continue for 4-5 breaths, allowing the breath to sink you deeper and deeper into relaxation.
- Now after your next exhale hold the breath for a few seconds, finding a subtle natural pause before taking your next inhalation. This centres your mind and activates the PNS; Parasympathetic Nervous System, “rest and digest”.
- Repeat this for 8-12 breaths, before slowly opening the eyes and observing the present moment.
Essential oils and aromatherapies target the location of the brain that is responsible for mood control, sleep and hunger. Steaming with essential oils is a very relaxing technique to help with the winter blues.
Be sure to match your oils with your current moods and feelings. Simply add them to your bath, moisturiser, inhale directly from the bottle, or add to an aroma lamp or diffusers.
With the use of our 4 top tips, you should be feeling uplifted once again in no time!
words by Sarah Drai, Yogi2Me www.yogi2me.com