As winter kicks into gear, are you finding yourself feeling a little down, having trouble sleeping, lacking motivation or lower in energy? If you can identify with any of these feelings, it turns out that there’s a totally valid reason why. That reason is the winter blues! Yep, the winter blues are a real and recognised thing.
When we say we’ve got the winter blues, it means we’re feeling the physical and mental impacts of the colder months of the year. The winter blues on the other hand aren’t as severe and we use the term more colloquially to label the feelings that present themselves over the colder months of the year.
We chatted to psychologist Bec McWilliam who explained exactly why we feel the winter blues.
Bec explained that one of the key catalysts for the the winter blues is the reduction in sunlight. When there’s less opportunity for our bodies to see and absorb sunlight, our body’s circadian rhythm (which is our body’s internal clock) is impacted and in turn can trigger more sadness, feelings of depression and cause dips in our serotonin and melatonin production. Serotonin helps to stabilise our mood and melatonin is a key hormone that supports our sleep.
So no wonder we’re not feeling as crash hot throughout winter! It becomes so tricky as the days are shorter and the key hours where we might be able to get some sun occur when we’re at work. However, there are some simple things you can do that will help you combat the winter blues and thrive throughout the colder months.
1. Get sunlight whenever you can.
Bec recommended to take part of your lunch break to go for a stroll outside or even rug up and enjoy your food outside if the sun’s out.
2. Make sure that you keep up your social life.
Winter tends to make us a little less social and want to hibernate and of course the options of what you can get out to do are more limited. However, Bec encourages you to make time and enjoy the company of others! When we socialise with those who we adore and who adore us, we get an instant serotonin boost which is going to boost our overall mood – win!
3. Keep moving your body.
Exercise helps to regulate your nervous system and will also give you a great endorphin release and we all know that endorphins = instant mood booster. Cue KIC workout!
4. Eat well.
When you fuel your body in the right way to give it all the vitamins and nutrients it needs, your body will then reward you by giving you more energy, the best possible chance to thrive and help to stabilise your emotions.
5. Lean into the season and adapt to the weather.
Bec recommends trying to embrace the weather. Instead of hating it, find the things that you love about it. For example one way you can adapt and appreciate winter more is to introduce super nourishing and hearty meals that are best enjoyed when it’s cold (pumpkin soup we’re coming for you!).
Although the winter blues are common, if you find that you’re constantly feeling down throughout winter please reach out to your health care professional. It’s so important to speak up and prioritise your mental health.
Working out in winter is hard and Steph sure isn’t immune to the motivational slump that hits every winter. However, she’s got some simple but genius hacks that she’ll be using to help her keep motivated and stay active this winter.
With winter now upon us Steph and Laura chatted to psychologist Bec McWilliam all about ‘winter blues’ and how seasonal changes impact our mood.
We chatted with Leo about the importance of moving your body to support your mental health and got his tips for how to tackle those days were motivation is lacking.