Dark mornings are nearly upon us and the early air is laced with chill.
Autumn often makes it harder to crank yourself up for an early run or meditation session, especially when your wellness routine revolves around balmy weather and light 7ams. However the end of summer doesn’t need to spell the end of looking after yourself.
We sat down with master personal trainer and wellness expert Ian Vout of Perfect Week Retreat, to get his tips for tackling winter with a positive mindset.
Take vitamin D supplements
“Sunlight is sparse in winter. So unless you’re lucky enough to holiday during the colder months, it’s best to keep your vitamin D3 level up with supplements,” Ian says.
Try a simple D3 blood test to check your levels. Alternatively take 2000 IU of vitamin D per day – this should keep your levels adequate until spring rolls around.”
Practice mindful exercise
It seems everyone is obsessed with working out, but what about working inwards to build energy? “Yoga and meditation are great ways to increase low energy levels during the winter,” says Ian.
“Meditation can begin with simply counting the seconds as you breathe in and out. The fewer breaths per minute, the better. You can do this anywhere but ideally choose a natural, quiet environment.”
Start with a few minutes every day and build from there.
Brace yourself for a cold shower
Whacking up the heating in winter is normal, but it’s also a good way to incubate and spread bugs. “Taking a cold shower is a great way to toughen your body as it’s both invigorating and boosts your defences against invaders,” suggests Ian.
In Sweden, small babies are left to nap outdoors in the cold because studies show they become more resistant to disease. “Try gradually turning down the temperature in your shower until it’s as cold as you can bear. Hold for two minutes. You can turn it back up if you need to.”
Get your eight hours
If you want to stay energised and resist reaching towards those Halloween-themed treats this autumn, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. “Regular sleep patterns are essential,” says Ian.
“Eight-hours of sleep between the hours of 10:30pm and 6:30am is ideal. Make sure your room is pitch black – you shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face.”
Keep your brain happy, with natural light
Humans are designed to live outside in natural light, but often we don’t get enough in winter, especially if you work indoors.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can cause feelings of sadness and lack of motivation during winter. “SAD is becoming increasingly common. We need to expose ourselves to the full spectrum of light to increase serotonin levels in our brains,” Ian says.
To workaround this, you could buy a light box. “It’s a great way to bring natural light to your desk or home, without having to go in search of sunlight.”
“Whether it’s skiing, an assault course race or an aesthetic aim, having a goal will keep you going through winter,” suggests Ian. “Let’s be honest, the majority of damage is done during these months. Keep an eye on your goal, so you can strive to achieve it, rather than hiding from it behind a pile of mince pies.”