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5 ways to boost your mental health during winter

The dark, cold days of winter have been scientifically proven to make us more likely to experience low moods. Changes in the weather can impact the hormonal levels in our bodies and can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Aptly named, this condition can make us feel lethargic, unmotivated and depressed. But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are ways we can help protect and preserve our mental health during the winter season. Here are 5 ways to help boost your mood quickly.

Stay social

People need social interaction, yet we tend to hole up throughout the colder months. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and contribute to low mood. Being with friends and family helps raise our serotonin levels and also improves our overall well being. Whilst the weather may be poor, don’t let it stop you from wrapping up and venturing out and about at least a few times a week. If you are finding yourself lacking people to interact with, try visiting the local pub, joining a social group or volunteering to meet some new people.

Get as much sunlight as possible

Scientists suspect SAD happens as a result of lack of sunlight, so to stave off any symptoms, try to head outside whenever the sun is at its brightest. A quick midday walk will help you soak up the benefits of the light, which helps decrease the amount of melatonin we produce, a hormone which makes us feel sleepy and lethargic.

Jetting off for some winter sun abroad may be a good option, if you can, to help break up the winter blues. However, some people may experience more severe symptoms of SAD on their return. Another option is to buy a bright light specifically designed to relieve symptoms of SAD.

Eat well

It’s natural to want to reach for sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol to comfort ourselves throughout winter. But comfort foods eaten in excess typically lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for low mood. Try instead to continue to cook healthy balanced meals with lots of seasonal vegetables. Many people become vitamin D deficient during winter, so be sure to eat plenty of leafy greens to keep up your levels, and supplement if necessary.

Keep moving forwards

The uninviting weather makes it harder for us to get outside and exercise, which can further
contribute to feelings of SAD. But choosing to keep moving will pay off in the long run for
both your physical and mental health. Going for a brisk walk or a swim at least 3 times a week will go a long way towards fighting off feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as keeping your fitness levels up.
If you don’t want to leave the house in the dark and dreary weather, try some online
exercises to help boost your mood. Doing a workout with your partner or a friend may be a
great way to shake up your routine and have fun whilst staying fit together.

Think Positive

The gloomy winter aesthetic can seep into our minds and make us feel miserable and see
things through a negative lens. Sometimes, SAD can make us feel demotivated and we may
struggle to enjoy our daily lives. On days like these, being kind to yourself is the first step to
feeling better.
Try to do something you usually feel passionate about, whether it’s cleaning the house,
painting, singing or even playing a games console. Setting a timer and forcing yourself to do
so for only a short amount of time may end up being enough to help shift your mood back
into a more positive mindset.
Practising mindfulness is a brilliant technique to help you gain perspective and feel grateful
when things are tough. Other ways to centre yourself and prevent feeling overwhelmed or
down may be to treat yourself to a hot bath, do something fun with a friend, or take a yoga