The best thing about winter is that you can indulge in extravagant Christmas celebrations — including, but not limited to, humongous amount of chocolate, sweets and homemade eggnogs.
However, Christmas, for all its qualities, doesn’t last very long. You’re soon left to face the dark and grey weather without anything to look forward to. The days are too short. The nights are too long. And you, stuck in between, are beginning to feel drain, miserable and somehow a little depressed too. Every January, thousands of Britons face the winter with gloom and despair. Things are not so bad – honest, guv! – but unfortunately, when SAD counts you among its victims, it can be tricky to find some joy in your life again. SAD, short for Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a lot more common than you think. Rightly labelled the winter disease, SAD is the result of seasonal changes. In winter, it’s characterised by the lack of direct sunlight, which can affect your body ability to absorb vitamin D, and in the long term, can create a depressive state. Severe cases can receive treatments similar to long-term depression complaints, from light therapy to antidepressants. But for mild SAD patients, doctors advise to stick in there and look for effective distractions in your everyday routine. What are distractions? Little things that make you smile and break the monotony.
Distractions are precisely what you need if you’re feeling emotionally under the weather. Indeed, with the right approach and the desire to embrace all the little joys that life throws at you, you’ll be happy to know that you’ve got what it takes to stop SAD before it stops you. Make your January SAD-proof in 7 simple and sweet steps.
Buy yourself a new piece of clothing
Now that you’ve put the ugly Christmas sweater away, you need to find something fun to wear, and that can keep you warm. Indeed, the winter forecast for the UK is anything but mild and cosy this season, so you need to wrap up without feeling like a burrito. Indeed, feeling sexy in your clothes can make a great deal of difference in how you apprehend each day ] and how you can kick SAD back to where it belongs, aka far away. Cashmere and mohair jumpers provide a toasty and elegant alternative to the chunky and shapeless wool top for the days where you want to feel more feminine. Trendy fabrics such as velvet – and especially crushed velvet – let fashionistas decline vibrant and funky colours in their day-to-day outfits. Nothing like a bright gold velvet blazer to spice up your dark office outfit, for instance. If you want to wear a skirt without getting cold, try a midi length velvet skirt that combines trendy and cosy. In other words, now the best time to buy a new piece of clothing for your winter wardrobe. Make the most of the January sales and get yourself something that will make you smile every day.
Print out your favourite memories
Your last summer holiday might feel far away. You scroll through the pictures of sunny beaches, sandy toes and light cotton dresses on your Instagram profile, trying to remember how warm the sun felt on your skin. Patience, the sun will come again. In the meantime, why not select your favourite photos to put them in frames? After all, there’s nothing as powerful than happy memories to boost your mood during the day! Now’s the best season to go through your family pictures and create a fun accent wall with a snapshot album of your life together. There are plenty of ideas if you’re a talented crafter too. You could make your own photo coasters or even personalise your dull kitchen clock with a family memory. Or, if you miss your family when you’re in the office, why not make a personalised mug with a photo of your darlings? While these might seem to be tiny touches, they can significantly improve your mood.
Wrap yourself up and go out
Going outside in winter might be the last thing you want to do, but it’s by far the healthiest of all options. Research shows that a walk in the middle of nature – your local park can do the trick – visibly improves your mental focus. Consequently, if you find it hard to concentrate at work after the Christmas break, all you need to do is to take a stroll in the park to unlock your inspiration. Keeping your mind busy is also an excellent remedy against the winter slump, which leads to SAD complaints. But more importantly, and more to the point, winter SAD is all about lack of direct sun exposure. You need to expose your skin to the winter sun to help your body renew its vitamin D intake. Besides, contrary to the common belief, you won’t catch a cold by spending time outdoors. Viruses and infections are not related to the temperature. In fact, you’re less likely to get sniffy this winter if you go outside than if you stay inside!
Have friends around for food and drinks
Don’t let everyday routine dictate your mood. Every morning getting up for work and every night going back to bed before everything starts the next day again; that’s the typical cycle, and it’s easy to see how draining it can be when you leave and come back in the dark. But instead of counting the days left until spring, make the most of the long nights to create new memories. Inviting friends over is the perfect excuse to relax, break the monotony and take a break from the winter stress. If you’re not used to holding dinner parties, you can keep things relaxed and casual. Snacking all night long on crackers, cheese, olives and raw veggies is suitable for a layback catch-up. If you prefer something a little more dinner-like, you can rapidly throw a pasta dish that will keep everyone satisfied. Let your guests bring the wine, sit down, have a chat, have a laugh. In short, enjoy the moment and reconnect with those who matter.
Find fun activities to do and look forward to
Do you know why January is the best time of the year to start new hobbies? You might be thinking of how your new year’s resolutions affect your choice of activities, but in reality, the reason for the hobby-thrive at the start of the year is different. Your mind needs distractions after the countdown and excitement of Christmas. With nothing new to look forward to – the summer break is too far away –, you need to explore new horizons to make the winter days go quicker. Find something that gets you out of your home, such as escape rooms for instance. Escape games are being increasingly popular across the UK – with new places opening regularly throughout the country – so you should be able to find the right room for you. The idea to get locked in a room with 60 minutes to escape — and solve the mystery – is appealing. But more importantly, players report a rush of adrenaline towards the end of the game. Rooms are not only exciting, but they boost your satisfaction and happiness levels too – even if you fail to escape. If you prefer sweating over thinking, trying out new workout programmes and sports is crucial to maintaining your mood. Indeed, exercising releases endorphin, a hormone that is linked with your perception of happiness. To put it in other words, January is the ideal time of the year to try out this dance course you’ve been curious about; you’ll train yourself happy in the process!
Make your Home your Sanctuary
If the house feels empty without the Christmas tree and all the decorations, it can gradually bite off large chunks of your happiness. Ultimately, your home is your sanctuary of peace and joy. So, it’s easy to understand that if your interior doesn’t meet your emotional expectations, you will struggle to find comfort at home. You can, however, tweak your interior style to create more paths to happiness. Indeed, the presence of nature is soothing to the mind. Consequently, sourcing items from the outdoors and picking colour palettes that remind of natural landscapes can push your mind in the right direction. Nothing like a fresh coat of paint to transform a dull room into your happy place!
Look at your Diet
It can be difficult to go back to a healthy diet after the indulgence of Christmas, but you need to focus your attention on feeding your body with the right nutrients. The sweet sugar rush of Christmas is harmful both for your body and mind, and can encourage mood disorders. Instead, turn your attention to mood-boosting food, such as oranges, and strawberries that support mood stability. Omega-3 fatty acids, in fish and chia seeds, actively fight off symptoms of depression.
**This is a collaborative post. For more information please head over to my disclosure page.