Tackling those Winter Blues

Sunset in Hyde Park, London

We love winter – the crisp mornings, the dark cosy nights, the warming, comforting food… But not everyone gets the same spring in their step once the days shorten and the weather turns.  For many, winter means just one thing – the blues. So what to do if you dread – rather than embrace – the arrival of late autumn?

We all know people who simply love winter and all that it entails – the roaring log fires, the woolly jumpers and sturdy boots. In fact, we are rather partial to the fabulous healthy recipes and comforting meal plans, and playing around with diet food to really make the most of winter flavours!  But for many, winter brings a lethargy and sense of discomfort. If this is you, here are some nutritional and healthy-living tips to help you achieve a greater balance this winter.

  • Eat fat – good fat! Omega-3 fatty acids are praised for their mood-enhancing benefits, as they help to improve the body’s production of serotonin (which in turn improves your positive moods). Nuts and seeds are generally a good source of omega-3, particularly walnuts and flaxseeds, while oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel should also be on your diet plan.
  • Get fresh air – preferably during daylight hours. One of the reasons people feel under the weather in winter, particularly in northern countries, is the lack of exposure to daylight.  Daylight prohibits the production in the brain of melatonin, which makes us sleepy and lethargic.  So get outside as much as you can!  Walk a bit more, take work breaks outside, use every excuse to find and absorb that winter sun!
  • Half an hour of aerobic activity at least three times a week has been shown to make people feel better about themselves and overcome any feelings of the blues. Ideally, this would be done outdoors, during daylight, s you get the feelgood factor double-whammy!
  • Eat more chocolate. We agree, it’s not often you’ll hear us say that, because generally-speaking chocolate is not a healthy diet  However, good-quality dark chocolate contains tryptophan, an amino acid which triggers the production of serotonin – which makes us feel good.  Not all chocolates are created equally, however – look out for high levels of cocoa, and low levels of sugar.
  • Finally, it goes without saying that if what you’re suffering from feel more than just lethargy or mild discontent, go and talk to your doctor. Depression comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes there’s only so much we can do for ourselves  before reaching out for help.