Beat the winter blues

Winter 650 X 300It is estimated that about 2 million of us in the UK suffer from the “winter blues”, that is having a low mood, less energy, an increased appetite and wanting to sleep longer during the winter months. Sound familiar?

Here are five ideas on how you could beat the winter blues.

1. Exercise. This boosts our immune system, helps us stay healthy and keeps our energy levels up. We don’t have to run very fast or long distances (unless we want to). Research shows that steady aerobic exercise – that is, exercise that increases our breathing rate – triggers the release of endorphins, which makes us feel good- helps to boost our immune systems.
2. Eat well. It can be so tempting to reach for the biscuit tin, but carbs and sugar just can’t give us the energy we need. A healthy diet boosts our mood, gives us more energy – and will stop us putting on weight over winter. For inspiration on warming and nutritious winter recipes, see the BBC Good Food website.
3. Boost your immune system. Did you know that you’re 80% more likely to get a cold during the winter? We can help our immune system out by eating more diary - milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12. You can get all the goodness with less fat in semi-skimmed or skimmed milk products.
4. Catch up on sleep. According to The Sleep Council, the average Briton gets just six hours and 35 minutes sleep every night, not the eight hours that most of us need. Sleep isn’t just about resting; it has multiple benefits from helping us heal our bodies to maintaining a healthy weight and helping our brains work properly. As we naturally want to sleep longer in the winter months, why don’t we embrace it as an opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep?
5. Make the most of the light. We know there’s not going to be much of it, and what there is will be weak but it’s still worth spending at least 20 minutes every day in the daylight (even if that’s just moving your chair to the window). Being in natural sunlight can benefit our alertness, mood, productivity and sleep patterns.

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