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Beating the winter blues

Liana Shaw explains how colour, exercise and "you" time can all contribute to a happy, healthy winter.

Winter. Yes, we have cuddly jumpers, cosy fires and Christmas. That’s all lovely, but we also might go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, the skies flit between varying shades of grey and there’s that constant drizzle which somehow gets you soaked to the skin even if you have 5 layers on. Despite the wonderfulness of the season, it’s not always enough to keep the spirits up, even if you’re the most optimistic of people.

In the latter months of the year many of us can feel those nasty winter blues creep upon us. Long gone are the pleasant memories of summer BBQ’s, beach days and holiday fun. In a bid to keep happy and healthy just as much in the winter months, here are some key wellbeing ideas to keep those pesky, fed up feelings away.

Colour Mind Games It’s amazing how certain colours can impact our moods, emotions and overall psyche. Winter needn’t be about wearing or surrounding yourself with darker colours. Yes, black, navy, burgundy and grey are autumn/ winter colour palette staples, but research shows that adding even a pop of colour to a darker outfit can be a great way to lift the spirit. Hot pink lipstick? Brightly patterned scarf? Block colour handbag? Colour is not just for summer – add tights or leggings to colourful summer dresses and skirts to keep wearing them all year round. Don’t banish the pretty prints or pastels – make them work for you on the grey days too.

Drink, drink and drink some more And I don’t mean drink mulled wine until February. Winter can bring with it a flurry of parties, special occasion balls, the office Xmas do, family get togethers etc. Sharing a few festive cheers is part and parcel of the season, but it’s also one of the sure-fire ways to make you feel more bleurgh in your body and in your mind. Find a way to keep hydrated in other ways and your body will be thanking you come spring. You could switch it up in the colder months with hot and refreshing herbal teas (apple and cinnamon tea is my ultimate winter warmer). Keep yourself constantly watered and you’ll feel the winter sluggishness much less.

Thoughtful Food

Yes, winter is here! No more ‘beach body’. Well, kind of. It’s sometimes a followed assumption as a society that we can ‘let ourselves go’ in winter and get fit again for summer. But really, what we put in our bodies can have a profound effect on us all year round. I love my winter comfort food; pies (savoury and of the mince variety) and stodgy puddings, large portions and piles of hot buttered crumpets. I love food. LOVE IT. But, I am slightly more mindful of what I eat in the winter, purely because I know how the food I love will make me feel if I have three months of overindulging. So, it also helps to experiment with a range of seasonal fruits and veggies and keep my plate looking fresh and colourful. I can still have the odd mince pie.

Active is not an afterthought Come winter, exercise regimes can sometimes fall by the wayside and we can lose motivation, which means less exercise, so we lose more motivation and the vicious cycle goes on. The colder months are also easier to make excuses as it’s ‘too cold’ or ‘too wet’ and we feel like hibernating under the warmth of a blanket on the sofa. But ask any doctor, fitness instructor of mental health practitioner – keeping active is probably one of the best ways to keep your mood up and your body ticking over happily no matter what time of the year. In the winter, you could swap your sea swim for the pool, find an indoor fitness class you enjoy, turn the house into a gym (yoga mat and HIIT video, plus stairs - Instant energy boost). Make a bit of time for some daily movement to make a huge difference to your mood.

Keep Going, Beautiful! The power of feeling fresh-skinned can work wonders for your general mood in winter. Who doesn’t want to keep the dewy freshness and glowing skin of the spring/ summer months? And it’s not impossible. Check out the products on page 111 for great ideas on current skincare miracles. You might need to change up your skincare routine with products designed for the winter months as your skin will feel the effects of the season. Central heating and fan heaters can parch your skin, harsh weather can flare up skin conditions and the general lack of sunshine and vitamin D can leave skin feeling sallow and tired. Keep in mind SPF should be worn all year round to protect from UV rays, but you can get a vitamin D hit through using an enhanced moisturiser.

Little Luxuries

One of the worst things that can happen in winter is the loss of ‘looking after ourselves’. The general wear and tear of the season can take its toll, days and days of gloomy skies can drive up cortisol (the stress hormone), and sometimes, personal wellbeing can slip through our very busy fingers. Keep in mind those little luxuries that help pep you up. Think what works for you: a long bubble bath with your favourite scented candle, a mindful colouring session, your favourite movie or a catch up with a friend. Schedule a bit of ‘you’ time. Pamper yourself a bit, do something you really enjoy and hopefully fuel that feel-good winter attitude.

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