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How to Manage Darker Days

When the days get shorter and the light dims, it can be hard to feel much enthusiasm. Instead of wishing winter away, try and make the most of the days with these mood-boosting tips.

Get as much daylight as possible

Even though it might feel like we rise in the dark and get home in the dark during the winter months, it pays to get as much exposure to what little daylight we do have. As well as helping negate the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is linked to lower levels of serotonin and melatonin, getting out into daylight will help regulate the sleep-wake cycle which is often disrupted when the days get shorter.

Factor in feel-good foods

Darker days are the perfect excuse to build some warming soups and stews into your repertoire, especially those that are packed with immune boosting, nourishing ingredients including proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. If you need to get your protein in when you can, then Workshop's Organic Vanilla Pea Protein Formula is a good option to add to smoothies. If you like curries, the colder months are also a great time to experiment with plenty of warming beneficial spices like ginger, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric. Also consider adding plenty of leafy greens such as cavolo nero and spinach to your shopping list, which have been shown to be key in in decreasing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Also, worth keeping an eye on is your intake of vitamin C-rich food such as kiwis, oranges, peppers and berries. As well as being rich sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, they’re also potent sources of fibre, vitamin A and other antioxidants.

Make your home a wellness refuge

Lighting, scent and colour are all powerful ways to boost your mood and seeing as colder, darker days mean more time spent indoors, it makes sense to turn your space into a haven where you feel relaxed, happy and comfortable. Orange, lemon and grapefruit are all uplifting scents to burn in candle form or in an essential oil diffuser, while jasmine is thought to encourage feelings of positivity and wellbeing if you’re feeling down or deflated. When it comes to colour, light greys with subtle blue undertones can inject a sense of calm into a room, despite the assumption that grey is gloomy. Light grey can actually create a haven that you can retreat into, while light blues create a feeling of calm and can help to reduce mental stress. Pink meanwhile is an inviting and cosseting colour. Using your space wisely is important, so make sure your spaces serve their purpose. Keep your bedroom for sleeping only and don’t let a working from home set-up encroach on your scared relaxation areas.

Think about your sleep schedule

If it’s hard to find the impetus to get to bed at a decent hour normally, then use the darker evenings to try and readjust your sleep schedule for the better. Take advantage of the fact that it gets darker so much earlier and bring your bedtime forward to something more sensible; you should be aiming for between 7-9 hours sleep a night so work backwards from the time you need to be up in the morning. If it’s not feasible to get into bed as soon as it gets dark, then try using those hours to at least wind down earlier, whether that involves taking a bath, practising some meditation or doing some simple, gentle stretches.

Try a cold shower

Without the natural mood-boosting effect of sunshine, we can often feel prone to bouts of the blues. One way to beat this naturally is by introducing cold showers into your morning routine. They’re thought to work by increasing endorphins in your brain and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. It’s also reported that cold temperatures increase the amount of white blood cells in your body, which are needed to fight off infections. Experts believe this is related to an increased metabolic rate, which stimulates the immune response.

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