Health Blog: Stressed Desserts

Stressed Desserts: 12 cures for the winter blues

I just can’t seem to muster any lasting cheerfulness or hope that spring is just around the corner. For all of you that are stuck in the same dismal, bleak, and blah feeling – here are a few great ways to conquer our cabin fever and winter blues.

It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing right now, but as far as beating the mid-winter blues goes, it’s one of the best. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine proved that exercise can be more effective than drugs when treating mild to moderate depression. So the fitter you get, the happier you’ll feel. If you can’t stand the cold, get down to your local gym to take advantage of their special post-new year offers and credits to help you keep your wallet healthy, too.

Once the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, many of us feel like we’ve nothing to look forward to. If your calendar is looking a little light, why not book yourself a holiday? Just planning a trip somewhere warm and sunny will give you a lift. Great places to visit in the wintertime months include the Canary Islands, Egypt, Kenya and Thailand. If you’ve got sick days left over from last year, use them during this mid-winter season to take advantage of last-minute deals (there are TONS out there right now!)

Singing lifts the spirits, and you don’t have to be good at it to feel the benefits (despite what your neighbours say!) If you’re not confident enough for one-to-one lessons, why not share a lesson with a friend or join a group singing class? Learning to sing will also help boost your confidence, so you’ll feel the benefit in other situations – for instance if you have to give presentations at work, or when meeting new people. Many bars have weeknight karaoke events and themes – where no one expects you to be a professional anyway, and everyone can enjoy and participate together.

Take advantage of it being dark and cold outside, and stay in bed! Turn up the heat on your love life by turning your bedroom into a boudoir. However fed up you feel, hot lovemaking is bound to make you feel better.

What you eat can have a profound effect on how you feel. Tempting though they are, don’t reach for traditional comfort foods such as sweets and chips, as they’ll leave you feeling worse. You need food that’s rich in amino acids – which trigger serotonin production, which in turn makes you feel happier. Your number one source are fatty fishes such as herring, salmon, and tuna – and fish oils such as cod liver (which also provide your daily ratio of healthy Omega 3s & 6s.) Other good choices are bananas, papayas, dates, chicken, nuts, avocados, and some seeds. Eat little snacks or meals, and often: this will keep your blood sugar levels stable, which should mean that your mood doesn’t go through ups and downs.

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. Don’t brush off a lasting feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own — you may have seasonal affective disorder. Also called SAD, it is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, zapping your energy and making you feel moody. Natural treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), spiritual psychotherapy, and diet changes to include helpful supportive foods; in serious cases, high doses of supplements, such as melatonin and vitamin D, would be most effective. Addressing the problem can help you keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year; book a consult with a naturopath and/or a holistic nutritionist for further information.

Becoming a volunteer helps overcome depression and stress. Research by the Community Service Volunteers (CSV) has proven that a whopping 71 per cent of volunteers said that volunteering helped them combat depression. There’s a huge variety of volunteer work available, from mentoring to gardening. Think about which of your skills could benefit others. Look at the local charity websites within your city to help find a project that suits you.

Fresh flowers are a great way to cheer yourself up, so fill your house with blooms this season. Choosing spring flowers will help you focus on the season ahead – as well as add a splash of colour. Make over any window boxes or garden tubs too, and you’ll soon be thinking happy spring-time thoughts.

If your credit card’s got any slack left over from Christmas, why not hit the mid-season sales? Choose your purchases carefullydon’t invest in a whole new wardrobe of clothes that will look out of style by next winter. Instead, focus on picking things for your home that you’ll love whatever the season. There’s tons of sales out there right now still on since the holidays (especially on housewares), so get out there and treat yourself!

Whether it’s a new skill that will boost your career prospects or something that’s just for you, learning a new skill will kick your brain into action and make you feel more positive about the months and year ahead. You can take a class in just about anything – from car mechanics to counselling, film studies to floristry – so there’s bound to be something that interests you. Consult local community centres, college websites, and talk to friends about taking them together.

Having a decent social life often falls by the wayside during the winter. When it’s cold and dark outside, we tend to curl up at home rather than get out and see friends. Make it your mission to go out at least twice every week. Get together with friends and come up with a list of things you want to do: films you want to see, plays or bands you want to book tickets for, restaurants you want to try. Pretty soon you’ll have something to look forward to each week!

Treat yourself to a massage, spa day, or a special treat (as with shopping, food, flowers, or all of the above!) There’s no reason that after the holidays are over for another year, that we have to put ourselves or self-care on hold, just because our credit cards are! Find something simple yet enjoyable, and most importantly that makes YOU feel good both inside and out, and try to at least once a week. This will help to keep yourself feeling great, your forward momentum strong, and your mind, body, and soul taken care of. Remember that if you’re not in working order, you can’t expect your life to be!



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