The weather might be picking up a little bit but we’ve still got a long wait until summer gets here, it’s going to be a while before the daylight hours stretch out into the evening and the sun is up before us in the morning. With the excitement of the holidays over it can seem like a lacklustre time of year and it’s easy to start feeling down or just a bit low but there’s plenty of simple and easy changes you can make to your life to pull that mood back around and rediscover that spring in your step.
Regulate Sleep Patterns
Sleep patterns can be a good indication of your mental state, too much sleep or not enough sleep or even erratic sleep patterns can be one of the major signs of depression. It’s natural for our brain to want a little more sleep in the autumn when the days start getting shorter but by the New Year our body has adjusted and you should be getting seven to eight hours sleep every night. If you’re finding it hard to drift off at night try writing down the things that are on your mind and doing a relaxing activity like reading or a word search to help your brain wind down. Try not to spend too much time lying in bed at the weekends, if you can make sure you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to help your mind and your body get into a routine.
We all know the health benefits of regular exercise, it’s good for the heart and it helps with weight management. It’s also very good for people with any type of depression. When we exercise our brains release serotonin and endorphins which create a natural high. This high can also be found by eating too much sugar too quickly but the buzz you get from exercise will last longer and won’t have the sharp come down you experience from a sugar low. If you are feeling down this time of year try getting at least a few hours of regular exercise every week, whether it’s getting off the bus a couple of stops early and walking a bit more or getting down the swimming baths one evening a week and your overall mood will soon start to improve as well as your overall health.
Healthy eating goes hand in hand with regular exercise, we know we’re meant to eat healthy and we know the difference between food that’s good for us and food that isn’t. Junk food, ready meals and anything that’s process and full of additives and E numbers can leave us feeling lethargic and sluggish. You’re also going to get a sugar crash if you eat too much junk food so try swapping any snack foods for healthier alternatives and make as many of your meals as possible from scratch so you know what’s going into them. If time can be an issue or your simple don’t feel like preparing a meal when you come home at night try cooking at the weekend and storing your dinner for the week in the freezer or investing in a slow cooker so everything cooks while you’re out each day.
The science behind SAD suggests it’s the lack of light that brings our mood down. There’s very little natural light this time of year and for those of us that spend most our day in an artificially lit office we don’t see much day light at all. Research indicates that being exposed to short bursts of intense light can improve our mood. Unfortunately standing under the florescent lights in the office don’t have quite the same effect but you can buy a light box that emits almost three times the intensity of natural light on a dull day, obviously you wouldn’t look right into the light but facing it with your eyes closed two to three times a day will increase your overall mood and well being.
Try Something New
It’s often the thought of monotony that gets us down this time of year, everything we were looking forward to has passed and we’ve got a few months until the weather really starts to pick up. If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut find a new hobby or activity, take an evening course, learn a new language, start going to a workout class, find something that appeals to you and make that change. Before long this new hobby will come with its own goals and points to look forward to and this will be enough to outweigh any lacklustre feelings you have related to the time of year.
To help bring a healthy attitude into your home JTX Fitness have a selection of great value home gym equipment including cross trainers, vibration plates and cheap motorised treadmills