The winter blues are real. The technical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and if you think you’re the only person who suffers from this form of “winter depression” think again. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world feel down when shorter days and grey skies arrive. One way you can beat the blues is to stay active over the winter months.
At our Auckland physiotherapy clinic, our goal is to keep you moving and we believe that is a goal you should set for yourself this winter. Maintaining your usual level of activity during cooler weather has proven mental health benefits. Researchers say just three 30-minute sessions of vigorous activity every week can have a positive effect on your state of mind. It might be easier said than done when you’d rather sit on the sofa and tuck into a large bowl of pasta – or another glass of red wine – so you can do other things to keep you feeling good. After all, the better you feel within yourself, the more motivated you’ll be to exercise.
With this in mind, another way to stay happier over winter is to pay special attention to your diet. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s only too easy to feast on carbohydrates and wash it down with red wine on a cold and grey day. And, if those things bring you happiness, then go for it – in moderation! But your diet should include even more fruit and vegetables at this time of year, as well as less red meat and more fish. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna can help you experience a more positive mood, while berries, dark chocolate and bananas are also helpful. Foods rich in folic acids (leafy greens, oatmeal, lentils), Vitamin B-12 (eggs, yoghurt, milk) and Vitamin D (mushrooms, egg yolks) should also be on your winter menu. One thing that shouldn’t is sugar – the crash after a sugar rush can make you feel even lower than before, so limit your intake.
During winter, we tend to stay indoors and draw the curtains, which deprives us of natural light. A gloomy room equals a gloomy mood. Research proves that a lack of light is another cause of the lows many of us experience during winter, so make a few changes in that respect by sitting next to a window and getting outside as much as you can – even if it means wearing several layers on a cold day. Just a few minutes at a time, as often as possible, could work wonders.
The team at Cairnhill Physio encourages you to stay active, watch what you eat, and get outside regardless of the weather. Take it from us, you’ll feel better for it!