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Health Watch - 10 Things to Prevent the "Winter Blues"

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With Winter in full force the days get shorter and nights get longer and colder. Even the best people get a little down. The "Winter Blues" are characterised by mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy that many people experience during this cold season.

Luckily there is a lot you can do to both prevent the blues from coming on and getting yourself back to normal if they're already here.

1. Exercise

OK Exercise is not only to maintain your weight and stay healthy. It's great for relieving the stress of life. Plus the affect of a good work out can last for several hours after.

You will have more energy throughout the day and your metabolism will stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by relaxing those "feel good chemicals" that improve your mood.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

What and When you eat has a great affect on your mood and energy. Avoid refined and processed foods (eg-white breads, rice and sugar). These good are not only devoid of nutrients your body craves, but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood, causing depression, lack of concentration and mood swings.

Have more complex carbohydrates, (whole wheat breads, brown rice, veggies, fruit) and get your daily 8 cups of water.

These healthy foods provide your mind and body with nutrients and stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels.

3. Get some Sun

Sunlight provides Vitamin D, but it also affects our mood. Days shorten and nights are longer and because it is so cold people are less likely to spend time outside. Lack of sunlight can cause people to become depressed and without knowing why? Like exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outdoors. Keep your curtains and blinds open. Sit near Windows. Change light bulbs to full spectrum bulbs, these mimic natural light and actually have the same effects on your mind as the real thing.

4. Act on your Resolutions

Recent studies done by the CDC shows a strong link between healthy behaviours and depression. Women who have healthy behaviours like exercise, don't smoke etc have less sad and depressed days than those whose behaviour were less healthy. Although researchers studied women, I imagine it would be much the same for men.

5. Avoid Binge Drinking

Staying in with a glass of wine or beer may seem like a good idea. Many people when feeling down turn to alcohol. But alcohol is actually a depressant and rather than improving your mood, it will only make it worse. Avoid alcohol when you are already depressed. 5 standard drinks in one sitting is considered binge drinking. The next day you feel sick, depressed, tired - making your energy levels low and "Winter Blues" even worse.

6. Treat yourself

Have something to look forward to can keep you motivated. Winter can seem long, but if you plan something exciting your mood improves. When you are anticipating it and when the event actually comes around.

Some examples : A weekend trip, Spa treatment a month, a party, a girls night out, Date night with hubby. A bush walk or bike ride with the kids

7. Relax

You might enjoy being busy, everyone is busy, but it is important to take some time out. Don't be scared to say No. Try to spend a few minutes a day doing nothing!

Read a book or mag, sleep in, go to bed early, meditation, yoga, go for a walk on the beach. Relaxation in yoga can alleviate stress and leave you calm energy.

Mental exercise like meditation and positive thinking can help keep depression at bay.

8. Embrace the season

Instead of avoiding the cold, look at what it offers - open fires, winter sport, snuggly clothing, snuggling with your loved ones on the couch, board games. Enjoy these opportunities while they last - after all they are only here for a few months and can make memories to last a lifetime. Seeing winter in a positive light with all the fun activities that it has to offer, will keep your spirits high.

9. Get Social Support

Don't underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers, and neighbours.

Turn to them when you are down and need a pick me up. Sometimes just a call or a coffee can brighten your mood.

10. Catch some Zzz's

People naturally sleep a little more in the winter but it is important to sleep 7-8 hours and try to keep bed time and wake times consistent.

Keep it normal and this way you will have more energy. Try not to oversleep. Those 12 hours snoozes over the weekend can actually make your more tired!

Naps are great but only 10-30mins in the afternoon.

Happy Winter to All!

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