Avoiding the winter blues

The weather is cold and we can’t just jump on a plane to sunnier climes – and Christmas has probably taken care of any spare cash we had (and probably some we didn’t).

So how can we keep ourselves feeling fit and positive and avoid the winter blues, without spending another fortune?

Get fit

It’s all too easy to become a couch potato at this time of year, but keeping active and shedding a few pounds in winter is not impossible. The benefits of exercise can be felt from even relatively short bouts of vigorous activity. You don’t need gym equipment. There are plenty of ways for most ages and abilities to exercise - including cleaning, dancing, using the stairs and online classes.

Once you have given your home a vigorous spring clean, look out for online home workouts and online classes for yoga, dance, boxing and more. There are plenty that will let you watch and join in for free.

If you have a daily exercise routine, it could be a good way to start the day – and try and stay active. It can reduce anxiety and stress, combat low mood and increase self-esteem.

Get out

Being cooped up indoors is not good for anyone and going out and getting some fresh air is vital for your mood as well as your health. Winter can be cold and wet – but there are always bright days to enjoy too.

Despite what you may have seen on the news, even if you are in lockdown you can exercise outside once a day in your local area with one person from another household.

It’s good to find someone to walk jog or cycle with. As long as you stay 2 metres away it provides the chance for social interaction, which is seen as key to mental wellbeing.

The natural world is good for you. Even if you live in town, a walk to a nearby park, river or green space can help your mood, as well as provide some fresh air.

Get busy

Boredom can be a real problem, especially if winter also means lockdown. Finding a new pastime or learning a new skill could be a good way to use your time and keep your mind fit and alert. There are plenty of opportunities to study online. You could gain a qualification which will help your career when the return to work comes, catch up on those subjects that you missed out on in school – or learn a new language for when holidays come round, or even start a degree course.

If study reminds you too much of school, simply setting a specific goal every day – so many press-ups, or so many pages read – can all help give each day a purpose.

Try and do something new every day. Try out a new recipe for example. Or you could try your hand at making your own clothes. Nothing beats the blues better than a new outfit, especially one that cost you next to nothing.

Get a good night’s sleep

There might seem to be plenty to worry about right now, but anxiety can make sleep difficult, and a good night’s sleep is vital for physical and mental health.

Yes, you do need to keep up to date on government rules and guidance. But you don’t need to spend hours online looking at depressing articles and comments on the pandemic.

Turning off those news feeds and even your internet an hour before bed could help with a good night’s sleep, as could avoiding caffeine, and getting plenty of exercise during the day.

Rest is important, but don’t try and hibernate.With the sun rising late and setting early, it’s all too easy to spend hours in bed – but this can actually make you feel more tired, and less ready to do anything.

Ensure that you have something to do every day – and preferably as soon as you get up.

Remember, spring is coming. You could be ready for it, and happier, healthier and looking forward to getting more out of life.

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