As I write this there is snow falling in parts of North Yorkshire. Yes, winter is on its way. I must admit I prefer the summer with the sun warming my body and the countless opportunities to be outside. I love the carefree feeling of wearing light, cotton clothes with their pretty, bright patterns. Although I do wonder why in the UK, we are so ‘down’ about the winter season. Many other countries in Western Europe have winters far worse than us but the residents seem to cope with it better. Are we just a nation who like to moan about the weather ?
I have spent the last few years in Austria on a winter holiday and their approach to the winter is so refreshing and uplifting. Of course, surrounded by the fantastic snowy Alps would uplift any downtrodden spirit. However people there don’t seem to view the winter as a hinderence in their life. In fact, they almost celebrate and welcome the winter with open arms. The Austrians seem to spend every day outdoors, walking, taking part in winter sports and socialising in outdoor cafes. I was struck by the number of people sat outside cafes and restaurants wrapped in wool blankets while drinking coffee, hot chocolate and eating Austrian delicacies. The fact that the temperature was below freezing didn’t seem to deter them. How wonderful is that ?
So taking inspiration from our Austrian friends I thought I would write my own suggestions for trying to make the winters in the UK a little more bearable. I guess my first thought was ‘ ooh, lets go to Spain for the winter’ but I think that’s a little defeatist don’t you ?
So what will I be doing to improve my feelings and attitude towards the winter ? Well, the first thing is just that. My attitude ! Instead of dreading the winter and the cold weather I am going to embrace it and try look at it in a positive way. I am going to look at the winter as a time to create a cosy atmosphere at home. I have just bought lots of candles which I always find so comforting, especially in winter. I have bought some fleecy throws for the sofas and I am enjoying snuggling under them on an evening while watching TV. By just spending a few pounds I can transform my living room into a cosy haven that raises the spirits, even when its freezing outside.
Home cooking and baking is also a fabulous way of feeling cosy and nurtured, and this is especially appreciated during the winter months. I have started making lots of home made soups and serving them with warm crusty bread. I also love to serve soup with a selection of sandwiches. Again this is a reasonably cheap way of feeling good about winter, but also home made soups are full of nourishment and will be a healthy addition to our winter diet.
I know the last thing you want to do is to feel cold in your own home, but I once read that many Scandinavians like to throw open their windows every morning regardless of the temperature outside. The reason for this is to allow the stale air to escape and to discourage the breeding of germs and bugs, which we know flourish in centrally heated homes. Of course it is healthy to keep warm during cold weather. In fact being excessively cold weakens the immune system as it thickens the blood and can raise the blood pressure. However just a short blast of cold air into the home is also healthy and promotes the circulation of clean fresh air.
Seasonal affective disorder is a common issue for many people living in the UK. This disorder ( SAD for short ) is a type of depression that occurs during our winter months. The symptoms of SAD vary between people but can generally include the following symptoms – low mood, anxious or stressed, low self esteem, lack of energy, wanting to sleep for longer, and a loss of pleasure in normal everyday activities.
There are a few ways we can help ourselves over this disorder by making small changes in our lives. Firstly it is important to get as much natural sunlight as possible, however brief this may be. Even a quick walk at lunchtime is beneficial. When indoors try and sit near windows where there is natural light. Take plenty of regular exercise, especially outdoors, as this helps with depression and anxiety.
It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet during the winter months, taking in plenty of vegetables and fruit. I buy a lot of frozen vegetables and fruit over the winter for making soups and fresh juices. Frozen vegetables are just as healthy for us as fresh and are easier to buy over the winter months.
Last winter I bought a SAD light which is supposed to replicate sunshine, thereby giving the user a positive feeling when they are lacking true sunshine. This form of light therapy is recognised by many health experts as a positive way of counteracting SAD, although it cannot be guaranteed obviously. I love my SAD light and I do feel some benefit from it. I just use it for an hour each morning through the winter months. The lights can be bought for as little as £40 so I think its worth a try if you feel you are lacking in sunshine each winter.
I have recently started taking Vitamin D spray to prepare me for the oncoming winter. There have been a lot of recent medical studies stating that many people in the Northern Hemisphere are severely lacking in Vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in the body and is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. We get a huge source of our Vitamin D from sunlight so in the winter months our supply is depleted. As the vitamin is only found in a few foods, a supplement is the only way to get the Vitamin into our bodies. Vitamin D supplements can be found in all health shops. I bought the spray ( I hate taking tablets ) from Holland and Barrett. Please contact your doctor before taking Vitamin D if you are unsure it is for you, especially if you are taking other medication.
My final tip for surviving the winter is to be kind to yourself. Reduce your stress levels and find ways to lift your mood and make you feel relaxed and content. I love to snuggle on the sofa under a blanket, with a hot chocolate watching old Hollywood movies. I love to take long hot baths using gorgeous bath products that will make me feel ( and smell ) good. There is nothing nicer than wrapping up warm and walking my dog George in the country or by the river, stopping at the local tea room for tea and crumpets.
Remember winter is a certainty in the UK, so we need to make the best of it and embrace the change in seasons. Instead of dreading it, welcome the winter with open arms with a plan to enjoy every moment.
Let me know your ideas for embracing the winter. Do you have any more tips for those who dread the winter ? Do you love winter ? Or are you tempted to jump on the first flight out to Spain ?
Until next time dear friends.
Wrap up warm and keep smiling !