The Winter of our Discontent
In South Africa, we’re fortunate to be blessed with many a warm winter’s day, and yet even we tend to suffer from the “winter blues”.
Andrew Burnard, Self-Help

The Winter of our Discontent


So, winter is here.

And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming return of Game of Thrones 😉 rather, I’m talking about the fact that we’re well and truly into the heart of winter – the days are shorter, the nights are longer and, by now, we’re all looking forward to the extra hours of daylight Summer brings.

In South Africa, we’re fortunate to be blessed with many a warm winter’s day, and yet even we tend to suffer from the “winter blues”.

So what are they?

Well, I’m not talking about full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, which tends to be more common in the northern hemisphere, but rather the somewhat, persistent “low mood” that some people struggle with during the winter months.

Research has shown a definite link between the lower levels of light in autumn and winter with the so-called winter blues. If you’re feeling more down than usual or maybe even downright irritable, then you might be suffering from the winter blues.

If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated and productive, making a few, simple changes to your daily routine can go a long way to lifting your mood and helping you feel more like your old self again.

8 Ways to Ban the Winter Blues:

  1. Soak up the sun. It’s free! Get outside, take a walk, have a break, or even just sit by the window and soak up the sun for at least 10 minutes every day. Aside from the mental clarity that comes with taking a break from your work, research has shown that light exposure does wonders for the winter blues.
  2. Move more. Regular exercise helps reduce stress, improve sleep and boost your self-esteem. Add in the benefits of sunshine from an outdoor routine and you’re A for Away! Even something as simple as a brisk walk can boost your serotonin and endorphin levels and leave you feeling on top of the world.
  3. Stay healthy. While the cooler weather can make you crave comfort foods and sugary treats, watch what you eat and drink. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and stick to healthier complex carbohydrates and foods rich in omega-3s to help keep your energy and mood up. As an added bonus, it’ll also help you fight off the colds and flu that seem to do the rounds at this time of year.
  4. Set goals. We’re halfway through the year – the ideal time for taking stock and setting new goals. They’ll help keep you motivated and productive as you work towards achieving the results you want. And that sense of accomplishment you’ll experience once you achieve them will be second to none.
  5. “Spring” clean. Why wait for the warmer weather to do your spring cleaning? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be outside when the sun is shining. Instead, make the most of the fact that the cooler weather keeps you indoors and go through your house, cleaning, sorting and throwing away (or donating) anything that you no longer want. You’ll feel a lot more calm and in control when you’re done!
  6. Be social. Meet a friend for coffee, take a class or join a club, but whatever you do, reach out and connect with people around you. From your colleagues, to your friends and family, it’s those relationships that will help reduce your sense of isolation and boost your mood.
  7. Have fun. We’ve all heard it before: laughter is the best medicine, but it’s true! Having fun is a great stress buster – in that moment of enjoyment all our worries seem to melt away. So make a point of doing something you enjoy every day, such as painting, relaxing with a good book, going for a run or simply chilling with friends. What do you love to do?
  8. Try Running Therapy. I’ve already covered the benefits of getting active, but running therapy in particular is a highly effective means of enhancing your mood, reducing anxiety and improving mental and physical well-being. Getting moving physically (at a pace you’re comfortable with) really helps get things moving emotionally, and the best part? I’ll be at your side every step of the way.

So there you have it, eight quick and easy ways to take control of your mood and turn the winter blues on their head. That being said, if you feel like you’d still like a bit of support, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

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M.A. Counselling Psychology (UKZN). HPCSA Reg: PS 0104299. Practice no: 0316091

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