I need to jet off to some hot, sunny location every year around right now. I hate the winter months and am just thankful that Christmas comes in the middle of them to offer some cheer and respite, for me at least. I know Christmas is not a great time for everyone.
I find I struggle more with healthy eating as I tend to eat a lot of uncooked foods as part of my healthy lifestyle and find it so much easier to fill myself up and keep away from temptation with yummy salads, raw veggies and lots of fruits. In this cold, dark, dreary weather I want hot, warm, spicy stuff and so I supplement the raw foods somewhat with soups and stews and North African spicy fishy soups but just being in the kitchen cooking makes me crave baking some delicious bread and smothering it while still hot with butter, or to bake some fab cookies or scones and smother them in jam and cream. I want hot chocolate with cream frothed up on the top and I want something delicious to dip my hand into while watching a movie snuggled up on the sofa all warm and cosy in blankies. I also find it very hard to want to go out and exercise when it’s cold and dark and miserable.
Besides all of this I’m sure I suffer to some degree with SAD, I’ve always struggled with winter blues and find that around now I’m just tired of the dark and cold and long to throw open some windows, have seagulls waking me up and to feel the sun on my skin when I go for a walk. Being swaddled in scarves and coats and jumpers is great for a couple of weeks but by this time of year I’m through with the excitement of the winter chill.
Ways I’ve found to combat this if anyone else is interested and struggles with the same things are to:
1. cook my soups and stews in bulk so that I don’t have that temptation of spending time in the kitchen for longer than I have to
2. allow myself a baked loaf once a week. I make from scratch a small wholegrain granary loaf and I have a chunk with butter as a special winter treat. Everyone knows I have a weekly scone with 100% fruit puree homemade jam and cream and I satisfy the craving to bake by making just 4 decent sized ones, one each for myself and Nick and two for the growing son.
3. I make my own granola each week so what I’ve been doing is putting some into small air tight plastic boxes and I use that to munch on when movie watching with…
4. low calorie, low fat instant hot choc drinks which kill my craving for something hot and chocolatey without piling on the pounds again
5. share the trainer has meant that I am more motivated to go to those sessions as my friend is newly enthusiastic and that is contagious and I can’t let her down as she drives to my house and parks up then we walk together so there is no escaping that and also pre-paying for sessions makes you more likely to drag your sorry behind to them
6. install a day light lamp in the room I’m in the most which is my studio now. It’s working to make me feel happier (as well as helping me to see my work) and I also have a massive window in there so I keep the curtain and blinds open and let the natural light flood in during the day when I’m working. I used to be tempted to leave it all closed up as the side of my house faces a road and so for privacy’s sake I wanted it to be closed but hang privacy, I need that precious day light boost.
7. warm up with some faster paced walking or a little sneaky jog to make you forget its winter when you’re out and about
8. go to the spa where the temperature is pretty ambient. Swim or float around with your eyes closed and imagine that artificially heated water is a blue, tropical lagoon, sweat it out in a steam room imagining you’re in some hot forest (especially easy for me as the steam room at my spa plays a kind of tropical rain forest back track), lie down in the sauna and as the sweat trickles down your body imagine you’re on a hot sandy beach. All of this stuff works for me, visualising myself where I would feel happier works, I swear sometimes I can see the sunshine haha. I invariably leave with my mood uplifted, only trouble is daily spa visits are a tad over indulgent and I really don’t have time for them. I plan to do this after work outs so that I have the boost to look forward to – it inspires me to workout for the reward after but of course the reward from working out comes from the work out itself. Anything that encourages you to go do the work out is worth trying though so that your low mood doesn’t make you miss out on that essential mood boost from working out.
9. plan trips to hotter climates and watch vlogs of people on holiday in warm places, the escapism like above lifts my mood maybe it would work for you too
10. notice that the night is setting in later and the mornings are getting lighter earlier already and know that we’re in February now and spring is just around the corner. Don’t let yourself give in to winter just yet, it’s almost another challenge won.