As winter draws closer and the nights start getting longer, it’s hard to avoid feelings of gloom at saying goodbye to the sunshine. That the sun can lift our mood is common knowledge, but with yet another washout summer behind us, it seems that most Brits are experiencing a severe lack of vitamin D.
In the summer months, most of us can get adequate Vitamin D from the suns, but during autumn and winter the British sunshine simply isn’t strong enough for our bodies to convert into Vitamin D. Getting sufficient sunshine is linked to high serotonin levels, which can result in a brighter mood and a more positive, calmer outlook. So with the weather only going to get worse, how can we keep our spirits up this winter?
Let the light in
Many people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) find just 30 minutes of light therapy (exposure to a light box which simulates sunlight) can be very helpful. If you think you might be suffering from SAD, speak to your GP about light therapy. On a smaller scale, sleeping in total darkness at night and using a bright light box that mimics a brightening dawn to wake you in the morning can affect your natural circadian rhythms and help you produce more serotonin.
Think about scents
We all know how evocative scents can be, so one easy way to brighten your mood during the dark winter months is to bring the smell of summer back into your home. As winter approaches, it can be tempting to get into the spirit of Christmas and burn festive scented candles, but fresh, citrusy smells are much more effective at lifting your mood. Swap your spiced apple candle for a zesty orange and see what a difference it makes.
Bring summer into your home
Bright visuals are just as important as scents, according to TV psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, who advises people to treat themselves to flowers throughout the year. The fresh, flowery scent and colourful visuals will subconsciously remind you of sunny days relaxing in the garden or park, and elevate your spirits by the power of suggestion.
Exercise – even when you don’t feel like it
A recent report by Tetley revealed that while 52% of us say rain negatively affects our mood, for 12% of people this can lead to feelings of utter depression. Thought it’s tempting to stay inside and do nothing when the weather is gloomy, this can actually contribute to a dip in mood. Even if you don’t feel like it, doing some gentle exercise will help boost your spirits – and if you can face going outside for a brisk walk, even better!