Top five tips
• Good self-care
• Eating well
• Thinking positive
Winter can be ghastly. The days are short and often grey, Christmas bills might still be out-standing, and any motivation for your New Year's resolutions has run dry. No wonder many of us feel more grumpy in Winter. And although it's not clinically defined, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is widely recognised within the medical community as a real syndrome, thought to affect one in eight people in Britain, ranging from the 'winter blues' to clinical depression. The good news is that there are cheap and simple behaviours to adopt if you're feeling blue.
GOOD SELF CARE
In my book Happy Relationships: at home work & play, there's a chapter on our relationship with ourselves - arguably the most important relationship we possess. Nurturing your body is good for boosting self-esteem. Lip-gloss or lip-salve is an inexpensive way to combat the effects on chapped lips of harsh weather or central-heating. And body-brushing and moisturising after a bath or shower gives sluggish circulation a kick-start, as does foot massage - which you can do on yourself or for a friend!
Smells stimulate the limbic part of the brain linked to emotions and memory, so as well as skin-care products with pleasant scents, think about lighting scented candles or incense sticks to nourish your environment as well as you.
You might feel like wrapping up in a duvet when the weather outside is miserable, but taking exercise releases lots of feel-good endorphins. Walking briskly every day, altering your commute or regularly taking the stairs instead of the lift, can boost your mood. Not only will your body thank you, but you'll also feel that you've achieved something specific each day - which really appeals to the task-oriented amongst us.
It's hard to motivate yourself to go outside in grotty weather, but we are group creatures. Socialising lifts the spirits. Invite friends round to watch comedy shows on TV. Or tap into your inner child by going as a group - male as well as female - to a shopping centre or department store to have free makeovers at the beauty counters.
After the excesses of the festive season, we often 'detox' in January, but then splurge again in February and March to make up for what we missed. This can put additional strain on our system so it's helpful to maintain a healthier eating pattern.
In winter our body needs more calories to keep it warm. However, this doesn't mean only eating sugary foods! Sugar affects our skin, contributes to weight gain and can cause mood swings when a sugar 'high' is followed by a crash.
Luckily delicious, brightly-coloured foods such as green kale or oranges are rich in vitamins and minerals, plus they're cheap because they're seasonal right now. And soups and stews, together with foods such as ginger or garlic are warming, and are therefore good boosts to circulation.
Some of us actually love winter, so make a list of things that only happen during this time. Whether it's seeing dramatic colours in the sky, curling up beside a log fire, watching snowflakes fall, or having early nights reading a book, focus on the moment. Be mindful and identify the best about the Winter, which will reframe your experience of the season.