Many of us find it difficult to cope with the inclement, cold, grey weather. With the shortage of sunlight comes the desire to simply stay indoors, bunker down, eat warming hearty foods, probably a bit too many sugary foods, forgetting the New Year resolutions or monthly targets to improve diet, exercise more, or simply lead a more healthy life.
Some people are even diagnosed with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – the symptoms of which are lack of energy, depressive moods and mood swings. Those who really suffer may even be incapable of functioning. This blog is not about those that are diagnosed with SAD, but the rest of us who simply find it harder to “get going” during these times despite our regular active habits, principally healthy lifestyle and positive motivation to stay on track.
What are the things that you can do to help manage low mood, lack of energy and “go” during grey, damp, cold winter days and spring days that barely see the sunlight while we hope desperately for some warmth from the sun.
TIPS FOR BEATING COLD, GREY DAYS
- Eat heart-warming foods, such as stews and casseroles and chunky soups. In fact, now is the time to get the slow cooker out and place all the ingredients into the pot to cook slowly for hours with no chance of burning the contents! The beauty is that it goes on cooking slowly while you are working and the kids are at school, ready to eat at the end of the day. Perfect for cheaper cuts of meat including beef, lamb, pork and chicken as well as hearty bean and vegetable casseroles. Be sure to add the vegetables at the same time together with the meat. At the end of the day when you are tired all that is left to do is sit down at the table with the family and enjoy.
- Eat seasonal foods – when it was recently announced by Tesco that they are limiting tomatoes and cucumbers per person because they are scarce, my immediate thought was, “no worries because these are out of season anyway”. Why eat a cold, damp food when the weather is just the same – cold and damp? Choose seasonal foods – parsnips, turnip, swede, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot and cauliflower to name a few. There is a reason why they are seasonal at this time, as this is when we should be eating them to get much needed essential minerals, vitamins and fibre. Full of vitamins and minerals having grown naturally with no forced growth in a hot house and at the time when they are most needed. Remember nature knows best.
- Get outside irrelevant of the weather. Dress warmly and go out for a good brisk walk at the time that suits your daily regime based on your day’s commitments. Be regular in this habit. It might be an effort to do it, but when you come back inside, you feel so much better. Not only that the movement helps your lymphatic system drain toxins. If the sun happens to be shining – expose some parts of your body to help with vitamin D absorption and manufacture. Vitamin D is essential for bones and teeth, the blood as well as the immune system.
- Keep your eyes on something positive - Observe nature – it is easy to think that nothing is happening during winter, but in fact that is not strictly true, especially as we come to early March when snowdrops begin to appear, daffodils show the first sign of foliage and birds sing more loudly as they hail the first signs of spring and burst into a frenzy of activity to build their nests.
- Switch off the TV and digital devices and play some kind of board or card game with friends and family. Joint activities generate fun and laughter taking our minds off the dank weather outside.
- When craving something sweet – quench the craving with a couple of squares of dark chocolate with a minimum 75% cacao. Cacao stimulates production of melatonin which in turn produces serotonin, the feel good factor, while fulfilling that desire for something sweet.
- Air each room in the house for 5-10 minutes every day by opening the windows. You are probably thinking “That will let the heat out?” You are right, but when refreshing the air in this way, it makes the heating more effective, or so I am told. However, it does ensure you breathe fresh air and immediately has the effect of making you feel more alive and energetic.
- Clear out – Use the grey, damp days to clear out those cupboards you have been promising to do for too long, the wardrobe and any other space in the house that seems to have accumulated stuff that has no home including the things that just get moved from one room to the next eventually ending up in the attic, under the stairs or in the garage where it accumulates dust and increases the pile of items to be sorted. Apply the 4D’s of time management which were originally for managing paperwork, but work just as effectively when applied to “unwanted” items:
- Deal with it
- Decide what to do with it
- Distribute it – family, charity, neighbours, re-cycling etc
- Discard it – throw it away in a responsible manner.
The main point being when you are clearing out – to handle each item once, putting it in the relevant pile for action whether that is taking it to the dump, giving it to a local charity or handing to a neighbour who might have need for it. Clearing out is cathartic, it makes you feel lighter, brighter and less heavy having completed that much needed clear-out. Applying the same approach to our mental, physical and emotional bodies can be equally as beneficial. Read my blog on “Spring cleaning”.
“Despite the forecast, live like its spring.” Lilly Pulitzer