Winter Soul Warmers

Rebecca Cavanagh Nelson

The cold, dark winter months can wreak havoc with our happiness. The latest message from the medical world is that too many pills are popped to perk up our moods, so here’s how to give glum the heave ho and add sunshine to your life.

Stay active

When it’s dark before dinnertime, it’s tempting to slob out on the sofa all evening. But add some exercise into your daily routine and it’ll lift your mood and keep depression at bay. Researchers have recently proven that physical activity has the same effect as antidepressants.

Eat yourself happy

Comfort food by name, is not always so by nature. Make a grab for sweets or crisps as a pick-me-up, and you’ll be left feeling low. Opt for meals that are rich in the amino acids that trigger serotonin production, such as bananas, turkey, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, nuts, avocados, seeds and pulses. Eating little and often keeps blood sugar levels stable, and your mood should follow suit. Reducing your intake of sugar and stimulants including tea, coffee, caffeinated fizzy drinks, chocolate and cigarettes is important too as these can disrupt blood sugar levels. Replacing your usual beverage of choice with the right herbal tea, such as St John’s Wort or camomile, is another sure-fire spirit lifter.

Alternative solutions Complementary medicines can be helpful when there are black clouds hovering. For an aromatherapy enhancement, add essential oils to a burner, such as clary sage, lavender, rose or ylang ylang. Or speak to a homeopathic practitioner about the right supplement to help lift your state of mind : ignatia battles depression and heartbreak ; nat mur eases the effects of bottling up emotions ; pulsatilla alleviates feelings of neediness or tearfulness ; and sepia helps reduce irritability.

Do something new

If it’s an effort to muster up motivation, extra stimulation might give you a boost. Extend your challenges by signing up for a course, or taking up a new hobby – just ensure you don’t overstretch or overload yourself or it will prove counter- productive.

Talk is cheap

We do it everyday, in all areas of our life, but the value of a good old chat shouldn’t be underestimated. Opening up to a friend or family member you trust, can help enormously.

Get enough sleep

Tempting as it is over the festive season to burn the candle at both ends, you’ll benefit from scheduling in a few early nights. And once you’ve pencilled in an evening of relaxation, make the most of it. Check your bed and all its trimmings are as comfy as can be, and your room is dark and quiet. Before you contemplate counting sheep, treat yourself to a long hot bath with a few drops of lavender oil. A bedtime blend of herbal tea will help set you up for a deep snooze and sweet dreams. Those few extra Zs will leave you feeling better able to tackle whatever life throws at you.

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