After enjoying a wet but warm summer, we are now moving our thick jumpers, warm jackets and scarves back to our wardrobes or we are about to do so. We start feeling a bit more hungry and grumpy than usual and find it very challenging to get out from the bed in the morning. Winter is around the corner! There are many reasons why we experience these symptoms and they have nothing to do with needing more calories or more hours sleep due to the season.
First of all, as the temperature drops our tendency is to be less out, and therefore we are less active. And we already know that we need move to feel active, right? If you want to know more about this topic you should check our past blog Get up and move. This leads us to a simple conclusion. Don’t become more sedentary based on the weather. There are always alternatives such as indoor physical activities or making sure you enjoy the outdoors in any active way. As long as you keep warm enough, it is a lot healthier than staying indoors all the time!
Feeling a little more down emotionally doesn’t have anything to do with the weather directly either. Again, in winter we tend to spend less time outdoors which means less daylight exposure and therefore less vitamin D production. Sun exposure is detrimental to our health and well-being. Deficiency of it may even lead to the so-called condition Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in some cases, a form of depression. There are little chances to enjoy the sunshine in these days, and vitamin D supplements, although needed for a big part of the population in Nordic countries like England, are not the best medicine. The good news is that Vitamin D excess has been proved to be stored by the body in fat and other tissues for around 1-2 months. This gives us the perfect excuse to take a few days off every couple of months and visit a sunny destination, for our mental and physical health. Countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal enjoy an open sky and offer affordable mini-holidays all year round. If you like, there is plenty more you can learn about Vitamin D and Sunshine!
When it comes to sleeping hours it doesn’t matter what season we are in. How much sleep we need will vary according our energy needs, lifestyle, stress and hormones levels. Due to the decrease of natural light exposure and the increase of artificial blue light (we switch on our lights at home once the sun goes down), our hormone levels are disrupted, leading to an unbalance in our melatonin levels, hormones produced by the pineal gland to regulate sleep cycles. We also tend to eat more cooked and heavy foods during the winter and, as mentioned above, eat more food (due to lower activity levels), altogether making us feel more lethargic. To avoid this, use natural light for as long as possible avoiding also any digital devices at least one hour or two before going to bed. Using low lights at home and keeping your heater off or as low as possible will also have a positive impact on your health and energy levels, since the body is meant to function better in cold temperatures and dislikes dry (unventilated) atmospheres. This is particularly important over the night, do not sleep with the heater on! Always remember to allow fresh air to run through your house every single day. If you struggle to make it most of the time without heat and fall sick easily otherwise, this may be a clear symptom that you need to strengthen your immune system. You may then enjoy our blog Immune System and Energy Boosters
Finally, it is important that we ensure a healthy mind-body balance and lead a lifestyle that supports it. Physical, emotional and mental well-being are deeply co-related. Only a healthy body can inhabit a healthy mind and vice versa. This has been beautifully written in our last blog Healthy Mind. Healthy Body. The 5 Elements to Lead A Balanced Life
We hope all these tips will help you feel happier, healthier and stronger over the winter.
Written by – Pilar