Dark days ahead? Banish those blues with these easy steps.

Winter is coming, the daylight hours grow short and those of us who love the brighter, warmer seasons prepare for what we see as a time of shade and gloom. Like many, I tend to dread the long dark nights, dislike the starkness of bare landscapes and shudder at the thought of wintery weather. But my attitude was changed this morning by a very positive article.

Every morning over breakfast, I scan the morning’s stories for some cheer amongst the international tales of death and corruption. This morning’s little ray of sunshine came from a fellow blogger, whose blog is simply called sustainableresponsibleliving.com. Towards the end of today’s article, unusually featuring lighthouses, the phrase “let’s not just chase the joyful summer, let’s reconcile with the shadows and enjoy what darkness contributes to our lives” jumped off the page at me.

Now, this simple idea set me thinking. Many of us find our mood taking a dip over the darker days and personally I have long disliked the time of long hours of darkness, cold temperatures and artificial light essential for activity at either end of those days. But every cloud has a shiny lining if we look for it, so I’ve come up with a few pointers as to how we might enjoy this shadowy season.

1. Keep up your summer routine

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Much is written of circadian rhythms, our light-related physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle. Try and keep the same daily pattern, going to sleep and rising at the same time of day, despite the shorter daylight hours. Resist the temptation to sleep later in the dark mornings. Get up, exercise and maintain your healthy summertime regime. Your body and mind will thank you.

2. Continue your healthy diet

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It can be very easy to slip into bad habits. As temperatures drop, the appetite ramps up and salad is no longer so readily available or appealing. However, a quick search for seasonal recipes will tempt you with hearty soups and warming stews to satisfy that craving for comfort food, while ticking the nutritional boxes.

3. Celebrate the need for cosiness

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The Scandinavians have various words which have come into popular use recently for a wintertime practice – Hygge in Denmark Mys in Sweden and the Norwegian Koselig. This is a way of making yourself cosy indoors, spending time relaxing with friends and enjoying good food. What a great excuse to enjoy the dark nights in good company! Light the candles, furnish the home with natural fibres and cosy woollen blankets to wrap yourself in and cook up something tasty and wholesome.

4. Wrap up warm in snug clothing

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Who needs a beach-ready body in the winter? Don’t worry about your figure’s lumps and bumps – hide them under lots of layers of colourful winter clothing. Break out the woolly hats and scarves, keep cosy in crafty knits and brave the elements. Getting out in the fresh air needn’t make you shiver. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.

5. Get some daylight!

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Our body needs daylight for vitamin D production, amongst other things. But, of course, during the winter months, we can leave the home in darkness in the morning returning after sunset as well. Try and get out in a lunch break or at some time in the day, to escape the artificial lighting and absorb those occasional rays of the wintery sun.

6. Review, research, reset.

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Those times spent indoors due to inclement weather or lack of daylight should be viewed as an opportunity. This allows you precious time to review what has passed, research for new projects, plan ahead or simply day-dream. Time spent doing nothing is now recognised as good for mental well-being; it allows the brain to file all the stuff it has been bombarded with and encourages creative thought processes.

A Wintertime Mindset need not equate to a negative mood. Some of the most enjoyable days can be when the sun shines over the shorter days. It can be all too easy to slip into the doldrums and head for hibernation. So let’s all look for the positives and banish those blues! I’d love to hear how you enjoy the winter.

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