February is the most depressing month of the year. The fun of Christmas is a distant memory and the warmer weather still seems a long way off (even in Spain this year). But you can beat the winter blues – here are our top tips…
- Eat healthily – It is all too easy to stuff ourselves with sweet and starchy comforting foods during winter. Our bodies seem to tell us we need heavier foods and sugars to keep warm. But these foods can leave you feeling sluggish, down and depressed. Salads, fruit, veg and oily fish are not just for summer, and getting a good supply of these will not only leave you a little lighter, but will lighten your winter mood, too.
- Go outside – We’re usually pretty lucky here in Spain with beautiful, sunny days and blue skies to keep us cheered through the winter. But when we get a cold, grey, wet spell – as we’ve had rather too often this winter – it is tempting to hunker down on the sofa, TV on and hot chocolate at the ready. But force yourself to go outside, it will make you feel better. Even on a cloudy day, being outside in the daylight will give your body Vitamin D¸ which boosts your limbic system – the emotional centre of the brain. And, just being active, seeing people or enjoying nature will help your mood.
- Use a light lamp – if you are still not getting enough light, consider investing in a light lamp. These simulate the sun’s rays, emitting between 2500 and 10000 lux (a normal light bulb emits only 250 to 500). Light lamps counter the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition that occurs in some people when they do not receive enough natural light through the winter months.
- Exercise – Exercise is a natural mood enhancer as it releases endorphins (the feel good chemical). Exercise outside and you get a double winter blues basher.
- Wear bright colours – Our mood can respond greatly to visual stimuli. Seeing bright colours makes you feel better and lifts the mood. Bring a little happy colour to yourself and everyone around you by breaking out of your winter black and going for some sunny reds, yellows and oranges instead.
If all else fails, go to YouTube and find some funny animal videos. If even that doesn’t work, you may be clinically depressed. Read our article on depression to find out.