Beating the winter blues

Many of us would admit to feeling a bit fed up or flat in January, having headed back to work after the Christmas holidays with not a bank holiday in sight.

The surprising extent of the issue has now been revealed through a new study by Anglian Home Improvements, which shows that a huge three quarters of Brits (72%) say the reduction in daylight over the winter has a negative impact on our mood, while 66% say it leaves us feeling less motivated.

More than 6 out of 10 (62%) of the 2,000 people questioned reported a negative effect on their overall sense of wellbeing, with almost the same amount (59%) saying the reduction in daylight over the winter impacts on their eating habits.

But fear not, help is at hand… There are plenty of things we can all do to help ourselves feel better if we have a touch of the ‘winter blues’. Check out the expert advice on this page from popular TV behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings, as well as the Top 10 list (and a few more just for fun) of things that people in the UK are doing to help themselves feel better through the gloomy winter months.

Expert advice from behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings

“It’s no surprise that three quarters of the British population suffer from the winter blues, as the changing seasons, the lack of natural daylight and the passing of the summer months affect us both psychologically and physiologically during the winter. The research shows that women are 50 per cent more likely to suffer from the winter blues than men, which is backed up by scientific evidence and is highly likely to be related to women’s increased sensitivity to cyclical changes – hormonal, biological or seasonal.

“The shorter winter days and lack of daylight cause hormonal changes in our bodies, increasing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes us feel lethargic and demotivated. Additionally the winter blues can make us crave sugary foods and carbohydrates, so again it’s no surprise that more of us comfort eat during the winter months and we often feel even more fed up when we gain weight as a result!

“There are a number of practical ways in which we can beat these mood changes. Regular exercise increases serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, and taking a Vitamin D supplement can help too. And of course, as the survey reveals, comfort behaviour such as cosying up in front of the TV, looking forward by planning or booking a summer holiday, or ‘nesting’ by making home improvements are also great mood enhancers. But more than anything, simply being outside on a bright day or sitting or exercising by the window, especially if south-facing, can be the single most effective thing you can do to make yourself feel less gloomy and more energetic and motivated.

Top 10 things we do to make ourselves feel better in winter

  1. Cosy up in front of the TV (58%)
  2. Read books (37%)
  3. Go for walks (33%)
  4. Book a holiday (28%)
  5. Re-decorate/plan home improvements (26%)
  6. Sit by the fire (24%)
  7. Watch the birds from a window (21%)
  8. Look at the stars on a crisp night (21%)
  9. Plan my garden planting for the next season (12%)
  10. Sit by a window (10%)

And a few other ways we’re keeping our spirits up…

  • Exercise and stay active
  • Meet with friends
  • Plan nights out
  • Relax with a glass of wine or whisky
  • Crafts and cooking
  • Get in the hot tub
  • Spend longer in bed
  • Browse the internet and online shopping
  • Cuddle the dog
  • Feed the squirrels

If you’ve got any suggestions to add to this list, drop us a line on Twitter @AnglianHome or via the Anglian Home Improvements Facebook page.

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