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  • Writer's pictureOrla Beaton

"When it's grey outside, I feel grey like the weather"

The past few days have been grey & rainy. The kind of low sky that feels like it might just touch your head! On days like this it can be hard to remember that the sun is still there above the clouds. It is common to feel our mood drop, to feel more lethargic & tired and crave carbs. This sense of winter blues can easily tip into SAD* (Seasonal Affective Disorder) over the course of the winter months, I know this from past personal experience. However, if we prioritise self-care now we can begin to re-frame our relationship with the winter and find emotional stability and even enjoyment of this time of year. Here are a few self-care tips that help me navigate the dark months of the year, I hope they help you too…

- Medicinal herbs (plant medicine) can be very supportive for the nervous system in the winter. If you can afford it would highly recommend seeing a qualified Medical Herbalist instead of buying tablets over the counter to ensure that herbs are chosen that are right for you.

- A wake-up light/ alarm clock can help a sluggish body-clock in the mornings. Lumie is a good supplier.

- Yoga and/or meditation is a positive start to the day all year round. Try popping your mat by your bed. A blanket or two can make this more enticing and a warm cuppa. Gentle stretching and breathing by candlelight can really set the tone for the day. There are many sites/ apps out there to help you. I would recommend Ekhart Yoga and Insight Timer App. Spending 10 minutes on the mat before you go to bed helps release the stresses of the day and invites a restful sleep.

- On really dark days, I have a desk SAD Light and sit in front of it while reading or typing. Lumie is a great supplier and sometimes offers refurbished lights which are cheaper.

- While it's tempting to opt for another chocolate bar or cake (I know!) these can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and energy which affects our mood. For me the need to prioritise healthy eating in winter is even more important. Soups, stews and smoothies are great mood-lifters and delicious too.

- Creativity is a wonderful way to boost our feel-good hormones. It's not so much about creating something "worthwhile" but about the process. Taking a few photos outdoors, writing in our journal or doing some mindful colouring can take us into a calmer, happier place where stresses are put to the side for a while.

- Go outside, when bright days come along! There is no substitute for sunshine even if it is low in the sky. Also, in the evenings, a starlit walk can be a wonderful way of dispelling feelings of claustrophobia.

- Socialising, in moderation, can really help even though we might not feel like it. Connecting with friends and family, laughing and talking together is a natural human need and can help dispel feelings of isolation.

- Allow yourself to give in to low energy sometimes and curl up by the fire with a good book. It’s all about balance.

- Cherish the beauty of winter. The full moon, the vast skies, the tree silhouettes, the birds, the frosty leaves ...pause, breathe it in and boost your happy pathways in the brain.

- Re-frame your relationship with winter. If we take cues from the natural world, nothing keeps going at full-pelt all year round. Despite our 24 hour, all-year-round culture, reassure yourself that it is okay to slow down, find time for stillness and introspection and to increase your self-care. Embrace impermanence, remembering that the seasons are in constant change and it won't belong before the new shoots of spring are putting in an appearance.

*For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. If you are struggling to cope please consider seeing your GP or counsellor.

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