Five tips to beating the winter blues

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As the days get shorter with gloomy mornings and darker evenings, you might feel yourself going into 'hibernation mode.' With the grey, chilly weather, you might not be feeling your best. The 'winter blues' is a real thing - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects around 2 million people in the UK and it's characterised by feeling more down, sad, or just less energised than usual. So, how can you get rid of that blah feeling and banish those winter blues?

📲 Have you found out your Happiness Score in your Evergreen Life app? Download the app and take the available Wellness Checks in your Happiness section to discover more self-help strategies to stay well all year-round.

What are the symptoms of SAD and 'winter blues?'

If you have SAD, this is a form of clinical depression that reoccurs around the same time each year. The symptoms of winter blues are similar, but a bit milder. You might experience:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
This is not intended for use for people with a diagnosis of depression. If you feel depressed to the extent that you have any feelings of self harm, it interferes with your sleep, your appetite, your relationships or your work, please contact your GP for further advice. Most people who are depressed improve with help.

How to banish the winter blues

Don't let winter get you down... If you don't have the luxury of hibernating in your bed for the next 4 months, there are some simple ways you can lift your mood.

Here’s our top five tips that you can do today...

  1. Keep active

    Whilst you’ll probably feel like just curling up on the couch in winter, it’s good to keep as active as you can to combat the winter blues. Regular exercise will keep you positive, feeling like you’re achieving something good for yourself. Exercising also releases your happy hormone - serotonin - so not only is it good for your health, it makes you feel good too! Check if you’re doing enough by taking the Fitness and Activity Check in the Fitness section of the Evergreen Life app.

    Not sure where to start when it comes to exercise?

  2. Keep in touch

    Making sure you keep in touch with your friends and family over the winter period helps you stay more connected to the world and feel less isolated. If your family live far away or you cannot see people face-to-face due to COVID restrictions, why not use the power of technology via online video chat, so you can see them as well as hear them? These days we rely on instant messages for communication but it’s good for us to have more human interactions to improve our wellbeing. If you’re involved in a loved one’s care, you can gain access to their health record to further improve their care and make your life easier. Why not take the Community Check in the Happiness section of the Evergreen Life app to see if you could be better connected?

  3. Eat healthily

    It’s easy to turn to comfort food when you’re not feeling at your best, but make sure that you’re not just mindlessly eating your way through that share bag of crisps. Try and be more conscious about your eating habits in the winter months. Making sure you’re getting your five-a-day is a good place to start so you can try to get the right nutrients to keep your energy and immune system boosted.  

    If you're struggling to get up in the morning, try our healthy breakfast ideas to help you rise and shine! If you haven’t already, take our Nutrition Check in the Food section of the Evergreen Life app.
  4. See the light

    There’s not much sunlight around at this time of year, so it's important to get our vitamin D from other sources like diet and supplements. Fatty fish including tuna, mackerel and salmon are great choices, as well as fortified dairy products. Even when eating the right foods it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the winter so it’s also recommended we all take vitamin D supplements. You can find out more about why and how here. Vitamin D helps encourage the production of serotonin so you can help boost that happy hormone. In those duller days, you might benefit from some light therapy – one way to do this is to sit in front of a lux light box for around 30 minutes. This article from “Which” about lightboxes is helpful. Light boxes give up to ten times stronger light than normal home or office lights and they can help boost your levels of serotonin.  Why not find out more about your Vitamin D by taking the check in the Food section of the Evergreen Life app?
  5. Stick on something upbeat

    Turn over the slow ballads! Research has shown that listening (and dancing!) to some cheerful, upbeat music can improve your mood - even after the song ends. The same can also be said for films and TV shows - putting your favourite feel-good comedy or rom com could help you laugh away those seasonal blues.
References
Written by
Dr Brian Fisher MBBCh MBE MSc FRSA

Meet Dr Brian Fisher MBBCh MBE MSc FRSA, Strategy and Clinical Director at Evergreen Life, and a Medical Expert with more than 42 years' experience as a GP.

Article updated:
December 16, 2020
Reviewed by:
Dr James Harmsworth King MBBS MPhil PhD
Biotechnology & Medical Expert