Go on admit it, how many times since the clocks changed have you found yourself saying “ooh I hate these dark evenings”? Yep, us too! But as easy as it can be to hibernate your way through winter, we know that this can lead to lethargy and sometimes even loneliness. We are doing our absolute best to embrace all the seasons, and although we don’t mind admitting that some days are simply made for snuggling up inside, we’ve been looking at how we can stay active, positive and healthy through the winter. Here are our top tips…
Get as much winter sunshine as you can
In an earlier blog we talked about our circadian rhythm being affected by how much sunlight we get. And at this time of year, we can find ourselves giving in to those sleepy hormones and heading to bed for an extra early night, despite not actually needing more sleep through the winter. But it’s not only our sleep patterns that can be affected by a reduced exposure to sunlight in the winter. It’s thought it can even lead to a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (sometimes known as winter depression). The NHS recommends getting as much natural sunlight as possible to help treat SAD and we couldn’t agree more – it’s a great natural way to boost your mood.
The nights may be long and the evenings dark, but it does mean we get lighter mornings! Try and make the most of them by getting out for an early walk or bike ride. If you live in Dorset then you are spoilt for choice when it comes to lovely places to enjoy the first light of the day (which is arguably the most beautiful anyway). Early morning beach walks where you feel like you’re the only one to have made sandy footprints can be a peaceful way to soak up some sunlight. If your morning schedule is already hectic, see if you can park a little further away from work or get off the bus a couple of stops before you usually would and walk the last part of your commute. Even a 10-minute stroll (or strut) can really help set your mood for the rest of the day.
If you can, try and get out and about during the day too. It can be tempting to eat your sarnies at your desk or use your lunchbreak to do chores (a salute to all homeworkers), but as the pandemic has shown us, al fresco dining can work all year round. There are tonnes of great places with garden heaters and baskets of blankets, so arrange to meet a friend for an outdoor bite or, find a bench with a pretty view and take lunch with you. Wrap up warm and pack a flask of your favourite Dorset Tea to warm the cockles!
If you are quite desk-bound or finding it tricky to get outside during the winter, we’d recommend getting a SAD lamp or a light box. They mimic natural sunlight and help you to fend off the winter blues.
Exercise your way through the chilly days
The fantastic new NHS campaign ‘Every Mind Matters’, all about looking after our mental health, recommends exercising to help stay happy and well. ‘Physical activity releases feel good hormones called endorphins, which help us sleep and feel better. It also helps improve our physical fitness, which tends to make people feel better in general’. You don’t need to take up a new sport or commit to a weekly class (although you may want to). Choose something you enjoy as you’ll be more likely to stick to it and maybe try and find a buddy to go with - not only can you motivate each other to do it, it means you’ll be staying connected with your friends during winter!
You may have seen us talk to about our love for cold-water swimming. Some of our team take regular sea dips all the way through the year. There have been a lot of studies about the benefits of cold-water swimming and not only is it said to boost your immunity, what we love about it is the natural high you get as the endorphins are activated! Here in Dorset there is quite a big cold-water swimming scene, but wherever you are based, we’d definitely recommend looking for a group in your area. Not only can you get helpful tips and advice, but you’re also bound to meet a bunch of people who are as crazy as you (and us) wanting to dip through the winter! One thing is for sure, this is definitely an activity where you need to have your thermos mask packed with a hot cup of tea! Our Ginger and Sunshine Lemon is just right for a zingy and warming post-dip brew!
Although this may sound obvious, if you’re able to invest in the right kit, your exercise regime doesn’t have stop when winter hits. Whether you need a winter wetsuit, a pair of waterproof walking shoes, or some fleece lined cycle leggings, getting the right kit can make all the difference when it comes to feeling motivated to get outside on chilly, wet days. Facebook is a great place to look for kit – as well as marketplace there are lots of groups for buying and selling second-hand kit for specific sports.
Take up a new hobby during winter
If you do tend to spend more time at home through the winter, now could be the time to take up a new hobby or simply do something for yourself. There are loads of online courses, many are free, others will leave you with a qualification. Lockdown saw huge numbers of people registering for courses with the most popular including photography, graphic design and nutrition (Shaw Academy). But you don’t need to commit to a course – you may want to try some of the Great British Bake Off recipes (yes, Lizzie’s gluten-free ‘extraordinary’ cake is top of our list). Or how about sorting out an annual photo album or joining a reading club! Taking some time for ‘you’ can leave you feeling relaxed and happy.
Stay connected to beat loneliness
As Dorset Mind say in their winter wellness campaign, ‘there is strong evidence that feeling close to, and valued by other people is a fundamental human need’. If you’re finding the draw of your cosy lounge, favourite box-set and warming cuppa is starting to impact on your social life then try and set aside a day or two to go out and see a friend or relative. Winter can feel like a lonely time as people do tend to spend more time in their own homes. Even if you’re not feeling lonely yourself, keep an eye on friends and relatives - they might get a huge boost from seeing you. Sometimes chatting to a friend over a cuppa is all it takes to make you smile for the rest of the day… especially if you can have a good laugh or gossip together!
Enjoy cups of sunshine
You didn’t think we were going to talk all about cold, wintery days without talking about how great tea is did you? What could be better on a chilly day than putting the kettle on and warming up with your favourite brew? Whether you’re sipping alone or brewing a pot for a friend or two, our range of Dorset Tea will bring cups of sunshine to all! From our Sunshine black tea blend and classic earl grey to our fruit and herb infusions, we really do have the perfect cup for you. In fact, maybe ‘tea’ could be your new winter hobby! Shop the range on our tea shop today!