I like winter, I really do. What I don’t love is autumn – or, more specifically October. That month marks the start of my winter blues.
As soon as the temperatures drop and the darkness starts to draw in (which is usually evident here in Sweden midway through October), I start to feel down. I’ve had this feeling for a few years now but it has been growing worse with each October that rolls around. I’ve been working on strategies to help me get through the touch months. I try to embrace the positives: the beautiful colours and kicking the fallen leaves with the boys.
Here are some of the things that I do to try and get on top of the winter blues.
Tips to combat the winter blues
♦ Sleeping at regular times: This is a pretty difficult one to stick to, tbh, but if you can manage it, it does make a difference. It’s also important not to give in to the temptation to go to bed too early. I know that hibernating beneath the duvet is sometimes all you want to do, but it is worse in the long run. Believe me, I know just how easy it is to slip into this.
♦ Vitamin D capsules: Here in Sweden, they give vitamin drops to babies from birth. They acknowledge just how crazily dark it can get in the winter and how little sunlight we see. There isn’t a similar programme for adults, but taking vitamin D daily is a great habit for anyone in Northern Europe, not just in the Nordics. I take these coconut formula Vitamin D capsules but there are plenty other good quality supplements on the market. The earlier you start taking these, the better the effect from them in the winter months.
♦ Go outside and get moving: Whenever you can, go outside for a walk, especially is the sun is making its presence felt. Just a few rays of sunshine on your face can make the day a little bit easier. And if you love exercising outside, then make the most of every chance you can to do so outside.
♦ Get listening: Create a playlist of happy songs that make you smile; songs that you can listen to over and over if needed.
♦ Do things you enjoy: I end up baking a lot more in these months. It’s something I love to do, that makes me happy and that means I can entertain the boys inside. We definitely eat more apple crumble at this time of year. Get more into your hobbies on the grey, wet days.
♦ Mindfulness meditation: I like to use the Buddhify app for mindfulness, especially the meditations for sleeping. Other really great resources for mindfulness meditation include the Headspace app and the Calm app. I find that practising mindfulness, even if it is just in the evenings, makes me feel better.
♦ Light lamp: Last year I bought a Philips seasonal light lamp as I was hit hard when the days got darker. As I typically start work at 6am, I keep the lamp on my desk and try to have it on for at least 20-30 minutes as soon as I arrive in the office.
Do you have any tips that can help for the dark winter months? What have you tried that works – and what doesn’t?