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Battle the Winter Blues: How to stay Happy & Healthy this winter

by Rebecca Goad on November 20, 2022

 

Gloomy mornings, gloomier evenings, and the cold, miserable weather got you feeling blue? You’re not alone. ‘Winter Blues’ or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is thought to affect around 2 million people in the UK. But get ready to feel a whole lot better- we’ve got the lowdown on how to flip the happy switch.

 

The clocks go back, the days get shorter and our shadows become longer! Have you noticed a change in the length of your shadow? This change actually signals to us that our bodies are no longer able to produce Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin. 

 

Do some of these symptoms sound familiar? 

  • Depression

  • Sleep problems

  • Lethargy (lack of energy and enthusiasm)

  • Overeating

  • Irritability

  • Feeling low

  • Unsociable

 

Why do we feel like this?

When our bodies are exposed to less sunlight in the autumn/winter months, our mental health pays for it. 

 

Reduced exposure to sunlight disrupts our biological clock (circadian rhythm), causes a drop in serotonin (a brain chemical that controls our mood and is responsible for our happiness) and disrupts the body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that helps control our sleep cycle and this can become unbalanced. Leaving us feeling pretty blue.

 

Breathing colder, drier, air can change how the immune system operates. When our bodies are cold, the protective mucus in our nose becomes dry and is less efficient, and fighting viruses such as the common cold, the flu and COVID-19 feel like swimming against the tide - hard!

 

Physically the ‘winter blues’ make us feel like many small mammals and the desire to wrap ourselves up in a big duvet, with a bunch of carbs and hibernate through the cold months feels like the answer. Ironically, it’s the complete opposite that will defeat this feeling.

 

Beating the Blues 

1. Supplements

When our shadows overtake us in winter months, our bodies are less likely to produce Vitamin D. A daily intake of 25-100ug via supplementation is enough for most of us during the winter months. 

(Psst- that’s why we include at least 25ug of Vitamin D in every Tonic Drink)

 

2. Establishing a Regular Sleep Schedule 

Whatever time you choose, waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day is important. It will help keep your body clock in check, but how much sleep do you need?

The National Sleep Foundation Recommends:

Age (years)

Hours per night

Less than 3

11 to 17

3 to 5

10 to 13

6 to 13

9 to 11

14-17

8 to 10

18-24

7 to 9

25-64

7 to 9

65+

7 to 8

 

 

(Don't forget to get yourself mellowed out and ready for bed. Maybe with a night time tea, a relaxing bath or a Tonic Night time Immunity Drink.)

 

3. Get Outside

As often as you can, get outside. Especially on those cold but sunny days; exposure to the sun literally helps the brain work better. This happens because a gland in the brain, called the pineal gland, produces melatonin. It’s an impressive antioxidant used throughout the body, for things like proper sleep, intestinal health, as well helping to prevent depression.

 

4. Eating Healthy 

Don't sit on the sofa with a big bag of crisps or your favourite comfort food, help your immune system to fight off seasonal viruses by eating healthy. A healthy diet will boost mood, increase your energy, and help reduce weight gain through the winter months.  

  • Incorporating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables will increase your micronutrient intake and help to suppress those natural cravings for stodgy carbs. 

  • Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, will help boost your mood.

  • Eggs are a great source of protein, which helps keep stable energy levels and reduce glucose spikes and crashes.

 

5. Get Active

Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy. They’re hormones which reduce pain and boost mood. Exercise also improves metabolism which in turn improves energy levels.

 

It doesn’t have to be strenuous to help prevent winter blues either. Activities such as walking, yoga and swimming or even running up and down the stairs or housework will help just as much. Besides, you’re far more likely to stick with it if it’s exercise you enjoy!

 

6. Be Social 

Even though every bone in your body is telling you not to, research shows socialising is good for your mental health. Say yes to your friends, to work or holiday events, grab the dog or a friend or both, it’s amazing how a short walk can lift spirits.

 

Final Thoughts 

Remember that you are not alone for feeling blue this winter.  Reduced exposure to the sun has several knock-on effects on the body and winter blues can leave us feeling depressed, lethargic, and unsociable.

 

Try and apply as many of the tips on ‘beating the blues’ to your life as you can: work on that sleep schedule, get outside on your lunch break, pair those carbs with a hunk of veg, get your body moving and even better, move with your mates.

 

Have some home remedies for beating those blues? Send them to hello@tonichealth.co with the subject line “Beating The Blues Tips” and keep an eye on our socials to see them in action.

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