Do long winter nights make you sad? If winter really affects your mood, you might have a touch of SAD – Seasonally Adjusted Disorder – but in most cases, it’s just that darkness makes our brains think we should be asleep! We are all affected by sunlight, or the lack of it, and while burying your head under the duvet might seem appealing, there are other ways to dispel the winter blues without going into hibernation.
You could research a lightbox, where bulbs simulate exposure to sunlight, but before you shell out on a technical solution, try these lifestyle changes.
Take a walk at lunch time. It doesn’t have to be a hike in the woods, it can just be a walk around the office car park or to the shop, or to the end of the road. A half hour brisk walk will lift your blues and probably help your productivity for the rest of the afternoon. Even if you’re headed to the gym after work, the fresh air and exposure to the elements will boost your energy levels. On days off, try and go for a Incredible Hikes around the World – hills, moors and coasts are particularly good for a blast of fresh air – or a bike ride. Don’t stop going to the gym or doing yoga, because all exercise is good, but get some fresh air too. Even if it is frosty or windy or damp…
It seems fewer and fewer of us, and millennials in particular, use the “telephone” part of mobile phones at all. We have slowly come to rely purely on text messages and social media for communication, but talking is a great way to pass a dark evening. Next time you’re at home alone, don’t switch on the TV, hop on the phone and catch up with an old friend. Why not take tradition even further and write letters to your friends and family? Invest in a new stationery set and let your loved ones know how you're getting on using handwritten words for a more personal touch.
Embracing the indoors and getting comfortable on your sofa is good for the soul too. Whether you call a friend, read a book, watch television (programming is always better in the winter months!), take up knitting, go through old photos or listen to a podcast, do it in the warm comfort of the sofa and those dark nights won’t seem so bad. Snuggle up with blankets, cushions, and light a few candles around the room for an extra cosy touch.
Overeating isn’t a good idea, but eating well is the perfect way to get through a dark night. We need good reserves of energy and there’s no better winter supper than a hearty stew, a rich cottage pie or a spicy curry – all of which can be vegetarian too. If you make it yourself, it’ll cost less, be more nutritious, and pass the time! Stock up on kitchen accessories and use the chilly months to become a culinary master.
Part of the winter blues is having to get up in the dark, and if you haven’t slept well or long enough, then the morning gloom is made worse by the grumps. Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel much better. Don't forget to turn your bed into a snuggly sanctuary of warmth though, or you'll be waking up with frosty toes.
And if all else fails, book a holiday and get yourself a good dose of winter sun! And in the meantime, it’s the shortest day on 21st December, so after that, the days are getting longer. With time flying the way it does, we’ll be sitting outside in daylight at 9pm again before you know it.