5 scientifically-tested ways to boost your winter wellbeing
By: Lorraine Hackett
Updated: 06 November 2018
The clocks have gone back, the temperatures are dropping, and the daylight hours feel non-existent.
It may feel as if summer is just over, but winter is well and truly here.
With the changing of the seasons, it can be more difficult to stay positive and healthy.
The urge to pull the curtains and climb into bed, or binge on comfort food, can sometimes be very tempting.
When your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, these scientifically-tested tips may help boost your mood.
1. Make food your friend
Some foods are proven to relieve stress and anxiety, while others will give you a short-lived ‘high’, only to leave you feeling worse a few minutes later. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of the mineral selenium, and studies have shown that people who are low in it have increased rates of depression, irritability, anxiety and tiredness. Oats are said to be a winning mood booster because of their low glycaemic index (GI) – they slowly release energy into the bloodstream, which keeps blood sugar and mood stable. Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate. Mood-boosting carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, while vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin. This helps to boost your mood and also aids sleep. Chicken and turkey breast also help increase your intake of the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses tryptophan to make serotonin – one of the most important neurotransmitters when it comes to mood. It also helps to make the hormone melatonin, which regulate sleep. That said, if treating yourself to a bar of chocolate makes you happy, go for it! Just remember to keep everything in moderation. Dark chocolate is a better option as it’s lower in mood-destabilising sugar and full of antioxidants.
2. Make your environment brighter
When daylight deprivation affects your mood, investing in an artificial light can be very effective. Even 30 minutes per day can make a difference. If this isn’t your thing, or your budget doesn’t stretch to a new purchase, simply keeping the blinds and curtains open, sitting closer to windows and getting out for lunchtime walks can all really help.
3. Turn up the tunes
Studies have shown than turning up your favourite music and having a boogie or sing-along can release mood boosting endorphins similar to exercise. Jump around, wave your arms, sing at the top of your lungs – all fun ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
When we’re feeling stressed, the simple (and necessary) act of taking some deep, cleansing breaths can go a long way to helping us feel more centred and calm. One technique is Belly Breathing, the steps below.
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. …
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. …
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times.
5. Have a cuddle
Again, the simple gesture of touch can work wonders to decrease stress, make us feel happier, and can even improve our health. Don’t fret if you’re single! A quick hug with a friend or a cuddle with your pet can yield amazing benefits.
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