Have you noticed the difference in mood when you have been in the sunshine compared to dark, grey days? In places like the UK, the short days and long nights make for some serious winter blues for many.
The days with sunshine are limited, commutes to work and back home are in the dark, and it is quite cold with unpredictable weather patterns. Australians in the UK may find themselves feeling a bit down during these winter months. However, these winter blues are not inevitable. These tips will help you beat these blues and stay healthy this winter season.
The “winter blues” is a real thing!
First of all, it is important to know that the winter blues is not just a term made up to describe how we feel after returning to work after spending a lot of time celebrating the festive season. It is a real disorder that affects many yet often goes undiagnosed. Often known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this disorder is where people go through patterns of depression that are linked to the seasons. It is especially prevalent in the winter months.
It is said to happen due to the lack of sunshine, throwing the natural body rhythms out of sync and leaving it depleted of vitamin D. Sometimes the early, cold nights mean we see fewer people too. This leaves us with a low mood. Thankfully, it is something that can be overcome with a few simple lifestyle changes this time of year that have been scientifically proven to help.
How to overcome these winter blues
Keep near the light – The biggest thing missed in Britain is the sunshine. While it can still be sunny, the hours are very limited, and it is too cold to stay out for too long trying to bask in it. It is recommended to keep the curtains open and to sit closer to the sunniest windows to get as much as light possible and to even go outside within a couple of hours from waking up to get natural light and fresh air.
But as the weather is so unpredictable, the best way to guarantee light is to get an artificial light box. Some studies have shown that sitting next to an artificial light for half an hour can be just as powerful as antidepressants. This light therapy is said to also help with sleeping and jet lag, especially helpful if you spend the holidays in Australia.
Take vitamin D – We naturally get the vitamin D we need from the sun. Simply put, if there is a lack of sunshine, there is a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. Taking a supplement will help your body get what it needs and boost your mood.
Make smart food choices – You may want to wrap yourself in that duvet and eat nothing but comfort foods, but be conscious of what you choose to eat. Sugary foods will cause spikes in blood sugar and make moods worse, despite tasting good at the time. Go for complex carbs that take longer to digest like sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans, lentils and whole grains. Try replacing your regular milk with skimmed milk too. Even dark chocolate in moderation is a mood-booster! These foods help boost serotonin levels in the brain.
Exercise –Exercises is said to help reduce stress and anxiety, so be sure to get in at around 30 minutes a day. This can be walking, visiting the gym or participating in team sports. You also have the bonus of meeting new people, especially important if you’re teaching abroad.
Plan your next holiday – You may be surrounded by wind, rain, and snow while experiencing early nights but even thinking about your next trip to the beach or somewhere warm can boost moods. Start researching trips and activities for your next holiday – you’ll be glad you did, and it will give you something to look forward to!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are teaching in the UK with Point-to-Point Education, know that it is imperative that you look after yourself. Your mental health is just as important as physical health. If you are experiencing feelings of sadness and suffering with low moods, then do not hesitate to see your local GP. They are here to help.