How to beat the winter blues

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winter walk sxc sxc.hu Exercise isnt only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy, its a great way to relieve stress as well.

Cape Town - BBBRRRR! And just like that, winter has arrived.

Cape Town has gone grey and wet and I’ve been scratching in my wardrobe to find a jacket and a long-sleeved top.

And my warm and cosy bed just wouldn’t let me go either.

Am I the only one who seems to have slept through autumn?

I must confess, I was really not wanting to get up and head out into the cold. And I know it’s just going to get worse as the temperature continues to drop.

Before we know it, we’re having hot chocolate every day, eating pots of stew and that morning run has turned into a morning nap.

And the snooze button on your alarm sees more action than the treadmill.

What we don’t realise is that all of this – combined with the gloomy weather – can lead to low energy, lack of motivation and mild depression.

There’s even a name for it – Sad – Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the winter blues.

Yes, I know it’s only a few drops of rain but the winter blues creep up on us so fast.

So here are a few things to keep in mind as winter sets in.

 

Eat right.

Yes I know how hard this is during those cold, wet days.

That healthy crispy salad you happily munched on in summer strangely tastes like cardboard in winter...

But try to avoid refined and processed foods like white bread, rice, cake and sugar.

These foods are not only devoid of the nutrients your body needs but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood, causing depression, lack of concentration and mood swings.

Try to add more complex carbohydrates like whole wheat breads, brown rice, veggies and fruit to your diet.

These healthy foods provide your body with nutrients, and stabilise your blood sugar and your energy levels.

And don’t forget your daily eight cups of water.

 

Get that body moving

Ooohh I can sense much rolling of the eyes and sighs!

But exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy, it’s a great way to relieve stress as well.

The effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you’ve hit the shower.

Exercise releases those “feel-good chemicals” – endorphins – that improve your mood.

You’ll have more energy throughout the day and your metabolism will stay elevated too.

A win-win, I say.

 

Treat yourself

Winter can seem endless so make plans to do things that excite and stimulate you.

Having something to look forward to can keep anyone motivated.

How about a weekend getaway, a day at the spa or even just a fun night out with the girls?

 

Don’t overdo it.

It’s so tempting to just stay indoors, sitting at the fire, munching choccies and sipping some red wine.

Next thing you know, one bottle turns into two and you're seeing double.

What most people don’t realise is that alcohol is actually a depressant, and rather than improving your bad mood, it only makes it worse.

It’s best to avoid alcohol when you are already feeling down.

Moderate drinking is fine for most people, but binge drinking – having five or more drinks in one sitting – is never a healthy choice, never mind the babalas (hangover) you’ll have to deal with in the morning.

 

Relax!

We’re all busy. Work, school, family, friends, appointments, meetings and it just goes on and on.

Even if you enjoy being busy, everyone needs some time off.

Try to spend a few minutes each day doing nothing!

Yes, I said it, NOTHING. Time to just be.

Take a few minutes to calm your mind, regulate your breathing and listen to your heartbeat.

Make time for simple things like reading a book or magazine, sleeping in on the weekend or playing hide and seek with the kids.

 

Get some sleep

This one is easy because people naturally want to sleep a little bit more during the winter.

But with all we have going on, sometimes sleep doesn’t come that easily.

With a little one still in my bed, an eight-hour uninterrupted sleep is near impossible.

But aim for seven to eight hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent.

That way, your sleeping patterns can normalise and you’ll have more energy.

Try not to oversleep – those 12-hour snooze fests on the weekend can actually make you MORE tired.

But there’s nothing wrong with a Sunday afternoon nap.

 

Reach out

Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers and neighbours.

When you’re feeling down, who are the people you can turn to for a pick-me-up?

Keep a mental list of these special people and don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement when you need it.

Something as simple as a phone call or a chat over coffee can brighten your mood.

I’m sure you have that one friend who can make you LOL when you need it most.

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