My top five winter mood boosting tips
The cold weather and short winter days are well and truly upon us, and it can sometimes feel like we’re lucky to get a glimmer of daylight on our lunch breaks, let alone before or after work! The huge popularity of SAD lamps is just one indication of our growing need for natural light in these modern, office-bound times, and we’re becoming increasingly aware of how much daylight impacts on our mood. I love the festive period and all those cosy, indulgent nights-in in the run up to Christmas, but a lack of exposure to daylight can have a direct impact on our moods – so it’s important to take the right steps to ensure those ‘winter blues’ don’t get us down. Here are my five tips to boost my mood during the winter months!
1. Eat mood-boosting foods
Wholegrain oats are one of my top nourishing and mood-boosting foods. The carbohydrates they contain help your body to make serotonin – the neurotransmitter that helps you feel happy, content and calm. And because oats are slow-releasing, they’ll maintain your mood and energy for longer.
Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are also fantastic mood foods. The omega-3s they contain are essential for a healthy brain and happy mood. Fish is also a great source of protein, which gives you tryptophan – a building block which is so important in helping your body produce serotonin. I absolutely love mackerel as part of a healthy breakfast or snack. See my serving suggestion below. .
2. Get plenty of daylight
The clocks have gone back and suddenly it’s dark by 4pm. If you’re like me, you’ll probably start to feel a bit more grumpy and fed up at this time of year. We need bright daylight entering our eyes to trigger production of serotonin. So make the most of the daylight you can get, by going out for a walk, an outside workout in the morning, or walking all or part of the way to work.
3. Always have a snack handy
When you’re rushing around it can be difficult to keep to regular meal times. If you’re like me, you’ll fall prey to those ‘hangry’ feelings if you don’t have a snack to hand. I try to mix it up every day depending on what I’m doing, but one of the things I always have in my pocket or handbag are Nairn’s Oatcakes. They’re a great emergency snack, especially if you can top them with something like avocado, some smoked salmon or almond butter for the protein and healthy fats.
4. Get moving
Exercise is a natural mood booster, as it releases endorphins that make us feel great. Do whatever works for you – it could be a 10-minute HIIT workout, a gentle yoga session or a simple walk in the park. If it’s outside, then all the better as you’ll get the benefits of the daylight as well. I try and complete my workout in the morning so that it sets me up for the rest of my day. It sounds silly but by scheduling my workout in my diary, means I’m more likely to stick to it!
5. Don’t be a hermit
It’s all too tempting to hibernate when it’s cold outside and gets dark early. But isolating yourself can just make you feel even more down in the dumps. At this time of year I try to get out every day, meet friends for a catch-up and a giggle, and spend time with my family. It always makes me feel ten times better!
Breakfast oatcakes recipe
2 Nairn’s oatcakes
Squeeze of lemon
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Mix one fillet of mackerel with a teaspoon of crème fraiche. Add a squeeze of lemon and chopped chives to taste. Spoon the mixture onto your oatcake and then sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds for extra crunch.