5 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues

Summer is time of joy and energy, some people want to visit the beach while others make promises to themselves that they will work out to look better by next summer. Winter, however, brings on the colder days and the idea of sitting in front of the TV with warm cup of cocoa sounds rather promising. However, many people feel lethargic and psychologically “down” during the winter, even turning to medication in order to cope, but it isn’t really the right or healthy mindset to keep.

There is nothing wrong with the odd mug of cocoa of course, but you shouldn’t succumb to the winter gloom or let it get in the way of the things you want to do.

Here are five great ideas for things you can do to help feel great all through the winter.

Relax with a Hot Drink

A hot drink such as tea in the morning can bring your body temperature up, not to mention giving a kick start to your day. Coffee also does the same job and is great for drinking before work on chilly winter’s morning. Research shows that coffee, with its caffeine content, can actually aid working out by improving alertness, mental focus and anaerobic and endurance performance.

If you don't like regular tea or coffee or want to go for a healthier option, do not despair as there are plenty of other hot drinks on offer. Green tea is fantastic for drinking after a meal as it aids digestion, giving you a warm but not bloated feeling inside. Other herbal teas have various benefits too; such as chamomile which has been used to treat insomnia for centuries and can aid a restful night's sleep.

There are so many different kinds and flavours of tea to choose from that you can be spoilt for choice, so if you don’t like one you are sure to love another. If you would prefer to avoid caffeine, then again herbal teas are a good option to go for and decaffeinated tea is ideal as it will still warm you up but won’t keep you awake at night.

One of the best hot drinks for combating the freezing temperatures in winter is a natural, but super easy to make, concoction made from three ingredients: boiled water, honey and lemons.

Simply add the boiled water and a generous teaspoon of honey in a mug and then add a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice for a warming, sweet and wonderfully tasting drink.

A soothing, hot cup of honey and lemons contains no caffeine so it can be drunk at any time of the day (or night). It is also renowned for its immune-boosting properties and will give you your vitamin C fix so that you can stay well and avoid viruses and other nasty illnesses. Add grated ginger and freshly squeezed orange juice for even more flavour and goodness.

Maintain an Exercise Routine

What is the best way to stay warm when its icy-cold outside? The answer is to move your body. Exercise isn’t just for the gym and you can get fit at home and stay warm at the same time. Even a short warm up routine will keep you warm and it’s scientifically proven that exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, just what you need on a downcast winter day.

If a set exercise routine isn’t really what you had in mind then why not take up a sport? There are plenty of sports to play so look out for local clubs or even organise a group of friends and kick a ball around in a park or go for a bike ride. Not only will this keep your blood pumping and will warm your body up but it is extremely entertaining which helps keep you in good spirits. Swimming might not seem like a good option in minus temperatures but as it involves the movement of the whole body, it will greatly increase blood flow which will also warm you up. Indoor swimming and sports venues have great facilities so take time out to wrap up and go.

Go Outdoors

When the sky is grey and frost covers the pavement, it seems like a good idea to just stay indoors in front of the heater. The lack of being active however, can actually make you feel a lot worse. Investing in some activewear and thermals will make it easier to go out for a jog or a brisk walk. The fresh air and daylight will uplift you and if you pick the right route, like a large park for example, it can be surprising how nature still stays beautiful during the winter and the sheer tranquility will lower your stress levels. Even fitting in a 15 minute daily walk will get the chemicals working in your brain that help you to beat the winter depression, especially if you do it in the day light hours.

Another fantastic idea would be to plan a day out with the family; do a bit of research beforehand about things to do in your local area, take the kids to a museum or treat your partner to a meal. All these things will make good memories during winter and will help keep the weariness away in the future years to come; winter won’t be seen as something so depressing anymore when you have great memories to look back on and plans for the future. Keeping in touch and meeting up with friends and loved ones will also help you to maintain a positive mindset throughout the winter season.

Get Cooking!

A wholesome, hot meal will really go down well on a cold day, while at the same time give you a sense of achievement that you have made something that you or your family really enjoyed. You don't have to give up with this idea if you don’t consider yourself as much of a cook as you can simply use the Internet to find recipes or treat yourself to a good cookbook if that’s what you prefer.

Munching on sweets and refined carbs will only give you a quick fix and then leave you feeling low, whereas eating well during the winter will make you feel good and increase your energy levels. Here is a simple but effective recipe for combating the winter chill, with just a few steps for making a perfect hot meal:

One Pot Pasta Recipe

This is a vegetarian recipe but it also works well with meat or chicken. Simply add it during step 3 and cook thoroughly before adding the pasta.

Ingredients:
1 Tsp Olive oil
1 Finely sliced onion
2 Crushed garlic cloves
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
500g Pasta (any shape that you enjoy)
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Curry Powder
1 Tsp Chilli Flakes (or according to taste)
Crushed black pepper (according to taste)
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Juice of half a lemon.

Method:
1. In a large pan, lightly fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until golden.
2. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes or blend them first for a smoother sauce.
3. Add the salt, spices, a cup of water and put the lid on, leave to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Add the pasta (you can also throw in some chopped vegetables at this point) and boiled water from the kettle, enough to cover the pasta and one cup more.
5. After about 12 to 15 minutes, test the pasta. When cooked, garnish with the basil leaves, crushed black pepper and lemon juice.

*Handy hint: Cooking in pressure cooker is even quicker and gives delicious results!

Plan a Holiday

One way to escape the winter blues is to get away from winter completely! If you have the time and means, why not book a holiday to somewhere sunny and you won’t even feel that it’s winter. Even if it is just for a weekend, getting away for a couple of days will leave you buzzing and refreshed to carry on with your regular routine when you get back home, or even inspired to do something new!

We hope we given you some inspiration to combat those winter blues. Remember to think positive thoughts, lead an active lifestyle, eat well, have a laugh and enjoy spending time with your loved ones, the summer is not far off...

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