It’s not unusual to feel a bit down, a bit low in mood, at this time of year. Christmas is disappearing in the rear view mirror, the holidays are over and the weather is often truly terrible. Here are a few ideas to help you keep the blues away.
1. Get outside for a walk in natural light
Yes, it may be cloudy and grey outside but it’s brighter than inside, even if you’ve got all the lights on. And brightness encourages your body to make serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood. Exercise increases serotonin too.
Getting outside also tops up your vitamin D levels. This amazing vitamin is mostly made by the action of sun on skin. It helps to make serotonin so it’s good for lifting your spirits.
Winter darkness and artificial lights encourage our bodies to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Wake yourself up by getting outside, or even sitting by the window (but outside is much better).
To start the day well, get outside into natural light as early as possible. A walk at lunchtime is a great idea too.
2. Eat good mood food
Here’s a reminder about which food puts you in a good mood.
Essential! Omega-3 essential fatty acids are good for your mind and research suggests that they also block chemicals that can cause low mood. Find them in salmon and other oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and dark, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
Eat your greens because some studies link low mood and not eating enough of them. You’re already eating spinach and kale (see above). Eat cabbage, broccoli and sprouts too!
Eat properly! Don’t skip meals in an attempt to lose that Christmas weight. It will cause low blood sugar and that affects your mood, your concentration and your energy. Eat porridge for brekkie which will keep you warm and keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Eat curry! That’s because turmeric (the yellow spice in curry) also helps to balance your serotonin, that mood-regulating hormone.
3. Boost your mood with enough sleep but not too much
Don’t try to catch up on sleep after Christmas as it often backfires and leaves you lethargic. Experts say it’s best to have regular bedtime and waking times if you want to reset your body clock.
4. Have a laugh
Relax in your favourite chair and watch your favourite comedy programme. Even if you’re only pretending to laugh your body will release ‘feel good’ hormones. These are brilliant at suppressing cortisol, the stress hormone.
5. Look ahead
Have something to look forward to. Book a holiday, sign up to a course, organise a meal with friends. All of a sudden, life looks a bit more rosy.
January can be hard going. Relax and chill when you get the chance.