Tired, sluggish and feel a little bit like hibernating?
With decreasing light levels, cold and often miserable weather and less time spent outdoors, winter can seem like an uphill struggle. A combination of activity, good eating and trying to find a bit of time for yourself can go a long way to increasing your happiness;
1 Getting Outside
Low levels of sunlight can have a real impact on wellbeing, with millions of us suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Vitamin D deficiency. Light levels can also impact on our melatonin production, disrupting sleep and making us feel even more tired. One way to help is by trying to get outside as much as possible. The most effective time of day is 11am-3pm, so why not use your lunch break to take a short walk, at least 15 minutes is best. Sit near a window to get some natural light. At weekends, try to get out to some green space, enjoy the outdoors and top up your light levels.
2 “Comfort” Food
Due to darker days with fewer daylight hours, production of the sleep hormone melatonin increases. In humans, melatonin also stimulates appetite. In winter, stews, soups, and slow cooked recipes are the perfect way to include lots of veggies and make comforting but healthy meals. Moroccan tagine, butternut squash soup, slow cooked lamb with lentils and porridge with plum compote are my favourites. Casseroles can often be cooked in batches and frozen so it’s easy to grab something when you’re not feeling like slaving over a hot stove (or running off to those festive parties ;-)).
3 Keep moving
It's well known that exercise, even low intensity exercise such as walking and yoga, can keep us ticking over and feeling at our best. Walking a dog, popping to the shop instead of driving, using the stairs instead of a lift can all add up to increasing our activity level.
4 Good Sleep Routine
Cranking up the heating when you get home may be comforting on a chilly day, but if you leave it on all evening, it will make it harder for you to sleep. Experts suggest keeping your bedroom temperature at around 17c, if it’s too warm it will disrupt your sleep. In addition, if you are having problems dropping off, switch off tablets, phones & ipads an hour before sleep, avoid caffeine after 6pm and try going to sleep at the same time everyday, these are all known to help (I know, easier said than done!).
5 Vitamin D
The wide ranging benefits of Vitamin D are a whole topic on their own. It’s now a Government recommendation to supplement vitamin D from October to March, if not all year round. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and can help reduce inflammation. It supplies a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and MS, helps maintain healthy bones and teeth and can help boost your innate immune system. It's good for pretty much everything, and a deficiency can cause fatigue and low mood.
I use a vitamin D spray from a Yorkshire Company, Better You, as this is better absorbed than other types. They also have some other amazing products. (If you are a runner, you would love their magnesium & lavender muscle spray, but I digress…!)
Better You TM Range of Vitamin Sprays from £5.95
6 Winter skin
Ravages of central heating, braving the elements with icy temperatures and biting winds can make your skin red, sensitive and well, just a little bit flaky. Face creams most often contain water as the first ingredient and therefore can actually contribute to drying out your skin. In winter, I usually switch to a facial oil. If you have particularly dry skin, you can use a facial oil as well as your usual cream. If you choose a good quality product, it'll balance sebum production from even the oiliest of skins and won’t leave your face at all greasy.
I have combination skin and I love the facial oil from Pure & Light Organics. An indie brand, it was created using high quality oils such as jojoba, argan, macademia, rosehip, camellia & avocado to nourish the skin and it's delicately scented with essential oils.
Pure and Light Essential Facial Oil £45
7 Little Luxuries
It’s generally agreed that having “stuff” doesn’t generally make you happier, at least in the long run. But having a few small luxuries that can help you feel warmer & more contented can make all the difference. We all have our version of what this means to us, whether it be a manicure, hot chocolate with marshmallows, crocheting ourselves some wrist warmers, slipping into a pair of cashmere socks or fragrant bath oil. Last but not least, at this time of year, I can recommend our Sugar Hill Restore Candle with frankincense and rose geranium. It's delicious spicy rose natural perfume is the perfect backdrop to relaxation and treating yourself well.
Restore Aromatherapy Candle Sugar Hill £20/ £10.95
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on Winter wellbeing, and please comment below to share your winter wellbeing secrets. May I wish you a happy and healthy festive season and a great start to 2017. Lucy x