By Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick at Wild Women On Top
Have you ever noticed how life gets that little bit harder in winter? Getting out of bed becomes more of a challenge as chilly mornings creep in, and it’s tempting to snuggle under the doona with a cup of hot chocolate and a movie at night.
But while it’s natural to want to snuggle in when the cold weather hits, this can make us feel worse, rather than better.
Our bodies are designed to move, connect and adventure, even in winter, and hibernating for three months can result in depression, isolation, and illness. Scientists have discovered a condition known as “SAD” or seasonal affective disorder, which makes us sleep more and crave carbohydrates. It affects 10-15% of the population, particularly in countries close to the poles with short daylight hours.
But there are lots of ways to protect yourself against SAD and make winter a magic, joy-filled time of year. Here are my top tips to ward off the winter blues and keep you feeling fabulous all year long.
Here comes the sun!
A lack of sunlight can upset our circadian rhythms and sometimes prevents us from making enough serotonin, the hormone that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood. When there is less sunlight in the winter, causing you to wake and get home in the dark, your serotonin might not be activated enough.
Sunshine is the best possible source of vitamin D, which is essential for wellbeing. You get it by simply exposing your bare skin to sunlight. Sunlight gives you strong bones and keeps your immune system strong. It can also boost positivity, help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. In summer, 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day is plenty, but in winter, when sunshine is harder to come by, especially if you are snuggled up under the doona, you need more. So that’s why it’s essential to get outside in the sunshine!
Take a walk during your lunch break or simply sit in the sun for 20 minutes to get your dose of vitamin D.
You can save electricity and boost your wellbeing by heating your body up naturally with a bit of physical activity such as gardening, bike riding, hot yoga, walking, or sex. The rise in your body temperature, during physical activity, has a soothing, calming effect on your body that’s even better than a long soak in a warm bath or lying in front of the heater.
When it's cold outside, put your runners on, layer up, and get out the front door. You’ll be warm in no time! And if you can’t summon the motivation for outdoor physical activity, get hot inside with some good old-fashioned cuddling, massaging, and hot sex. That’s really good for you too!
It’s natural to turn to warm, comforting foods during winter, but fortunately we can have our veggies and eat them too – if we’re organised! Soups, stews, casseroles, and roasts are packed with veggies and taste delicious, so turn on that slow cooker and enjoy.
Winter is also a great time to enjoy warming drinks such as turmeric lattes and lemon ginger tea to boost your immune system and keep you hydrated when water sounds WAY too cold.
Take a deep breath
Being stuck inside with the windows shut and nothing but heaters to keep the air moving means fresh air is much harder to come by in winter. Generally, the air is healthier outside than inside, so stepping into the fresh air gives your lungs a chance to detox and breathe deeply without concern for breathing in other people’s bugs (at home or from the office)!
Go hiking with friends
Walking in nature with friends ticks so many winter health boxes in one activity. You’re moving, which stimulates the limbic system of your brain and makes you feel happier. You’re connecting with friends which creates oxytocin, the hormone that brings feelings of love, bonding, and wellbeing. You’re in nature which reduces fear, stress, and tension, as well as boosting immunity. And you’re in the chilly, fresh air, which supports healthy lungs and makes you feel rejuvenated and alive!
What are you favourite ways to warm up in winter? Come and tell us your tips over on our Wild Women Community Facebook Group.