Winter is back again, and many of us find it a difficult time; it’s dark and cold and we can’t do the outside stuff we enjoy in the summer. This affects us psychologically, and the lack of light has a physical effect, causing low levels of vitamin D, and so some of us get the winter blues.
However, there are some steps we can take to try to deal with this.
Vitamin D supplements can help – according to recent research most people would benefit from this all year round, but especially in winter.
Exercise is always good for us in many ways, even the humble act of walking has many great health benefits, and perhaps one of the reasons we can end up feeling so rubbish in winter is because our exercise is curtailed. We often allow ourselves to be deterred from walking in inclement weather and yet I often find that a walk in the rain wearing appropriate clothing is far more desirable than not getting any exercise.
Going outside is generally good for us, even walking to work in the rain or the winter gloom affords us opportunities not otherwise available; seeing the Heron waiting patiently on the towpath, watching a Squirrel take an impressive leap, hearing the song of the humble Blackbird or seeing the sun come up over the city. You may have heard this ancient wisdom referred to as mindfulness.
These experiences can take us outside of ourselves, if only for a moment, and enable us to experience joy, humility and awe and remind us that we are part of the circle of life, and put our petty human concerns into perspective.
Native plants’ life cycles are so in tune with the seasons that many of them need the winter frosts to wake up their seeds and spur them into action. So winter is, in a sense, ‘gestating’ the spring.
A wise friend once pointed out to me that the time from the clocks changing in October to the shortest day is only six weeks. After that every day is two minutes longer than the day before, so hope returns.
So the task is to get through those six weeks; in times gone by, people would ration themselves over the autumn in order to have a mid winter feast; this became Christmas. Maybe there is some wisdom in this giving in to nature’s rhythms, and just spend those weeks taking it easy as much as is possible, then look forward to having a good slob at Christmas, by which time the shortest day is behind us.
I find that so called SAD lamps help during the worst of the winter darkness; having one on the desk at work or replacing bulbs at home with daylight bulbs can help. Equally, getting outside at lunchtime during the working day can help to top up on sunshine; a little organisation may be required to bring a packed lunch.
As always, there’s is good advice on the NHS website on coping with the winter blues.
Sources; Joan Baez, Thomas Hardy, the Lion King, NHS, Paul Moulding.