Winter can bring a change in emotions and can come in the form of many different names, including the winter blues or the medical term seasonal affective disorder. It is common for people to get fed up and down about the short, dark days that come with the winter months but there are lots of things you can do to keep the blues at bay.
It is thought that one of the main things that causes these sorts of feelings are the shorter daylight hours which produces higher melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression.
This article looks at how people can avoid the winter blues and the different ways you can boost your mental wellbeing to stay positive.
It is scientifically proven that socialising can improve a bad mood and help avoid winter depression.
You don’t even need to leave the house to socialise, so people with mobility problems that have to use mobility aids like curved stairlifts to get around and other equipment don’t need to be alone at home.
Life Coach Denise Bosque believes it is important to socialise face to face: “It is extremely important to connect with people every day, and I mean face to face, not on social media. Social connection and support help us to be positive, and when we bond with others it releases a 'feel-good' hormone called dopamine. This is one key factor common to all the ‘Blue Zones’, those places on the planet where populations live significantly longer than average, often to be 100yrs.”
Another great thing to do to beat the seasonal slump is to stay active, it has been found that exercising around three times a week can help ward off depression.
Outdoor exercise can have huge benefits on your mental wellbeing and a bit of fresh air can help you to stay positive as well. If the weather is bad or you suffer from mobility problems then there are lots of exercises you can try which are based indoors. Below are some of the best indoor or outdoor activities to try.
Dancing has a wide appeal for many older adults as it provokes positive memories of their youth and therefore it bolsters their mental health. There are also lots of physical benefits to dancing such as improving your posture and flexibility that can help reduce the risk of falls.
Denise Bosque agrees dancing can lift your mood and ease anxiety: “Try dancing, line dancing is incredibly good for both physical and mental health and you get the bonus of connecting to others. It's not about getting the moves right, but learning new skills, meeting friends and having fun making it an altogether hugely positive activity to practice.”
Yoga has been found to have lots of mental health benefits as it relieves stress, reduces muscle tension and inflammation, sharpens concentration and improves your attention span. According to the American Psychological Association, it enhances your social wellbeing through a sense of belonging to others and improves symptoms of depression and sleep disorders.
In an article on the Yoga Journal, a source for all things yoga, Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner, said: “Yoga is a psychology—the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behaviour and our minds.”
Tai Chi is another exercise that has been linked to improving mental health. This gentle Chinese martial art of slow meditative physical exercise offers relaxation and can improve your balance and health.
The exercise has become increasingly popular across the UK and with it combining mental concentration, slow breathing and dance-like movements, it is seen as a great way to switch off from the stresses of everyday life.
As well as being great for your mental health there are lots of physical attributes it brings with it. Tai Chi has been shown to slow the development of osteoporosis and Parkinson's disease and it also helps with muscle tone and flexibility.
Brain games train your mind, keep it engaged and are great for people young and old to play together. Brain training games can improve your memory, logic skills and response time.
Denise Bosque, who practices in Twickenham and Ealing, highly recommends playing brain games as they can improve your mental wellbeing.
“It sounds 'old hat' but it's been proved that doing crosswords, reading and writing are great for our brain. Better still start something new, when we learn anything the brain has to grow dendrites, so in effect, the brain grows bigger which is good news for all of us. What could you have a go at? Art, poetry, learning a language, it's up to you, the choices are wide and varied.
“Why not try teaching your skills to others, what are you good at? Not only will you "refresh" older neuro pathways, but you'd be surprised by how popular are traditional activities amongst young people, such as knitting/crochet, or cooking.”
Here are some brain games you could try:
During the winter months, it is important to eat well as during the cold, wintery months you can crave sugary treats and carbohydrates like chocolate and pasta.
While there is no reason that you can’t have the occasional sugar fix, it is highly recommended that you don’t forget to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
This is something Dr Hazel Wallace, who is behind The Food Medic, highly recommends: “Ensuring that our food intake involves many different types of vegetables and fruits with a variety of colours. A good amount of fibre, some good sources of fats and trying to eat home-cooked food wherever possible will go a long way to ensure our bodies have the right resources to fight off infections and help us feel energised and healthy.”
During the winter months it is important that you get lots of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin D as these all play a key role in our immune system and fighting off colds and flu.
As you will have read, there are lots of different ways you can stay positive and plenty of things to do that can boost your mental wellbeing. Here is a recap of some of the best things to try:
This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.