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Winter’s coming: here’s how to survive the blues

    It's a bit like Marmite, winter. You either love the fact the nights are drawing in and the baggy jumpers are coming out, or you hate it - and refuse to put your flip flops away.

    Humans aren't great with change at the best of times, and the sudden drop in temperature, light and activity can be a difficult one to adjust to. So much so that it can actually bring on a type of depression named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    So, if the dark days really are starting to get you down, here's some things you can do to keep you feeling like your usual self.

  1. Get more light in your life

    Not suggesting you sleep with the lights on here, but getting more natural light during the day can help reduce feelings of winter depression.

    "In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us wake up. It's thought that SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours in the winter. They produce higher melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression. So if you're going through a bout of blues, lack of daylight is probably playing a part.

    Alison Kerry
    Mind, Mental Health Charity

    Get outside as much as you can, especially on brighter days (even if you have to put a few more thermal layers on!) or sit by a window to get the most out of the daylight.

    You may even want to look at booking yourself a cheeky last-minute break to somewhere more sunny. There's some really great deals around this time of year, so a quick flight abroad could be just what the doctor ordered.

  2. Don't reach for the stodge

    Winter makes us crave bad food because it's our bodies way of trying to give itself a temporary hit of feel-good chemicals. Heavy, sugary, carbohydrates give us comfort in colder weather, so it's much easier for us to stuff ourselves with junk food over winter.

    While there's definitely nothing wrong with cheering yourself up with the odd pizza and a chocolate bar, remember that it's actually the fresh fruit, veggies and plates full of protein that are going to fuel you the right way.

    Healthy winter food
  3. Make plans

    When the nights start getting darker most of us assume the things we enjoy doing have to come grinding to a halt, when in fact, winter is probably the best time to make plans with your friends and family.

    Food festivals, long brisk walks, cinema nights, Christmas markets... you name it, and it'll be happening somewhere near you in the next few months.

    Look at your schedule and circle the dates where you could be at risk of feeling low or bored. Then get the group chat going and see who's free to get out and about.

    Friends together

    If your friends are feeling anything like you are - you're probably actually helping them out too. An activity-packed winter PLUS top friend points for you. Plan on.

  4. Get moving and shaking

    There's nothing like a good excuse to not do any exercise. Guilty as charged. But wasting away in hibernation mode is a sure fire way to end up feeling rubbish not just during winter - but when it's over too.

    Keep up with your exercise, whether that's a few zumba classes, a quick run over the weekend, or a yoga session on your lounge floor.

    Physically moving around will release endorphins and all the other important brain chemicals that will help you regulate your mood. Dig deep and find the willpower to get some exercise in your day. Short-term pain, for long-term benefits - it'll be worth it.

    Exercise in winter
  5. Reflect on the year so far

    One of my favourite things about the year coming to an end, is being able to look back over everything that's happened since the year before. What you enjoyed, experienced, cried about, laughed about, achieved?

    Our lives can get so busy that we often forget just how much we've done, living for brief moments before we're moving on to the next thing. Use this time to reflect.

    Another year passing means another year of experiences that have no doubt developed you as a person, or even changed you completely. It's important to give those moments the thinking time they deserve.

    Reflecting on the year

    Think about putting a scrapbook together of your best moments or get your favourite people together to reminisce over the memories you've made this year. Nothing beats a "do you remember when" moment.

  6. Map out future goals

    Part of reflecting back over the year also means thinking about what's next. Maybe you never finished that course you were really interested in at the start of January, or you never got round to booking that trip of a lifetime.

    Finishing the last chapter, means you get to choose another book - and the best part of that is it's all in your hands. Take a step back and look at where you are in terms of your studies, your career, your relationships, your goals. Then work out what your next steps should be to improve them.

    Making plans for the future

    If you're perfectly happy, amazing - you can focus all your time and energy into maintaining that and helping those around you. If you're not, now's the time to put the plans in place to change that. What's slowing you down? Are your goals still the same as last year?

    Forget New Year's Resolutions, start working on the best version of you now.

Feeling a bit anxious about your first winter on the road? Here's a little helping hand to get you driving confident for all seasons.


Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.