Outdoor living reduces winter blues
Although we love a lie-in when the clocks go back, we can’t help but feel a little gloomy as the days get shorter and the winter nights draw in.
many simple ways to boost your mood
So, to keep your spirits up and appreciate the beauty of nature in frosty February, here’s how you can use your glass room to combat negative thoughts.
What is SAD?
We’ve all heard of the “winter blues”, but there is actually a medical term for this condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. And while your body may be struggling to respond to your alarm clock in the morning, it’s not the only bugbear it has with dark morning commutes…
Scientists believe SAD is caused by our response to daylight. One theory supported by the NHS and mental health charity, Mind, is that light entering the eye causes changes to hormone levels in the body, stopping the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
So while you may feel perky on your 6am summer run, come winter and even a dose of David Bowie through the headphones won’t get you going. But while we are unable to stop the earth from rotating on its axis, what can we do to lift our spirits?
The light of my life…
Role model and celebrity gardener Monty Don has always advocated a spell outdoors as a way to battle the blues – and he is right. The NHS recommend that to help you feel better you should absorb more light, so sitting by a window or simply going for a stroll in your garden can improve your mood no end. And before you frantically dial a cruise hotline to secure a place on their next departing voyager, think again. Medical research suggests that sufferers from SAD fare even worse after they return from a sunny holiday abroad, so best put down the receiver now.
In fact, there are many simple ways to boost your mood. The Mental Health Foundation recommend that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week is effective against depression, meaning a run in the park could be an easy solution to feeling better. Or if red-faced and tight-lycra isn’t your look, get together some friends for a fun exercise challenge on your veranda or glass room. Your levels of the mood regulating hormone serotonin will be lifted – and you can always treat yourselves to some mood boosting 5-a-day smoothies afterwards.
The grass is greener
Finally, you may be tired of seeing shopping shelves stacked with “Mindfulness” colouring books, but don’t dismiss the term just because you refuse to colour pretty pictures of grazing giraffes. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) aims to combat prolonged periods of stress and uses techniques such as meditation, gentle yoga, and mind-body exercises. It is often described as ‘living in the moment’, so while you are in your glass room take the time to listen or step outside your door to feel your surroundings. Touch the tress, hear the birdsong, smell the herb patch or find a quiet spot to sit. Being still can lead to the acceptance of a difficult period, giving you the calmness you require to continue through the dark winter months.
Glass room goodness
So, if you find yourself feeling blue this new year, remember that your glass room can help you take in some much needed light. Whether it’s relaxing in a chair with your favourite book, doing some yoga, or listening to the birdsong, outdoor living can help make the winter Holly King your friend and lead you towards a calmer place.
If you would like more advice about SAD and mental health, please follow the link to the NHS website.