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Cure winter blues? Is that really possible? Definitely!
In winter, it can all feel a bit grey, not just in terms of the weather, but a sense of disappointment that we have such a long wait until the return of the long, languid days of summer.
On top of this, having to retreat into our homes again might trigger the old anxieties of lockdown, and the natural hibernation and isolation that can occur in the colder months is certainly a challenge too.
By acknowledging this we can implement a few strategies to help boost our mood as we move through the colder, darker months ahead. Read on to find out some of my tips on how to apply a little well-deserved, mood-boosting TLC this winter.
Nourish yourself to cure winter blues
Now is a particularly important time to nurture yourself from the inside out and, naturally, this starts with optimal nutrition!
There is a huge link between our gut and our mood. Aside from the fact that the gut and brain are physically connected through millions of nerves (the Vagus nerve), the happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut. But serotonin production can only happen effectively through feeding the gut with a broad and diverse selection of nutrients. If you can get some of these into your diet you can seriously boost your mood and, ultimately, be on a great path to cure winter blues.
Gut happy, good mood foods we should focus on include:
- Fatty fish including Omega 3 fatty acids – (EPA and DHA) – linked to lower levels of depression
- Berries – anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants
- Beans and lentils – B Vitamins
- Nuts and seeds – Zinc, selenium, healthy fats & fibre (almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds)
- Good quality dark chocolate 70% + – mood boosting compounds
- Fermented foods – Gut-Brain axis – miso, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut
- Bananas – B6, natural sugars and fibre
- Oats – soluble fibre
- Organic eggs & Turkey – Tryptophan rich foods (Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin!)
Nurture your mind
Whilst we have made humungous progress in terms of looking after our mental health, us Brits still have the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality (aka brush it under the carpet!) deeply ingrained in us. It’s become a bit of a cliché but ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. Acknowledge when times are tough and be kind to yourself.
Have you tried journalling? It can be cathartic to write down how we’re feeling and process unhelpful thoughts that might be cluttering up our brain. A simple prompt might be ‘how are you feeling today’, then just put pen to paper and see where your brain takes you.
Set yourself some healthy boundaries
Social media has undoubtedly become a major distraction and form of entertainment for most of us. We may not realise it, but the time spent mindlessly scrolling through the endless tunnel of highlight reels will negatively impact us. On top of the fact that we are likely to compare ourselves to others, mindless scrolling will massively influence how productive we are. Our 2-minute scroll through Instagram can easily mount up to 20 minutes without us even realising! I’d suggest setting some time limits on scrolling or unfollow any accounts that are triggering. You could even delete some of your social media apps, even if only temporarily, if they aren’t serving you.
These boundaries should also be applied to your professional and social life, burning the candle at both ends won’t do you any favours. Set aside and prioritise one or two evenings a week to rest and recharge – however that looks to you.
Move for your mood!
The weather might not be particularly conducive to exercise motivation at this time of year, but I think we all know how powerful those magic endorphins can be after regular exercise. Movement can quite literally transform our mood and, as a result, cure winter blues; whether it’s a brisk walk in the fresh air or some zen inducing yoga – anything is better than nothing!
I hope you’ve found this helpful and inspiring. Please let me know if you give any of these tips a whirl and I’d love to hear if there are other things you implement to boost your mood!
Do please download my Top Winter Warmers ebook – see below – it’s full of nutritious recipes and can really help.
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Get our latest fantastic winter warmer nutritional recipes.
These recipes have all been created for their nutritional impact in collaboration with Kitchen 94.