Why are we often more tired, sluggish and lacking in energy in the winter? Because when it’s dark, the human body produces more melatonin – a sleep hormone that also sends our psyche into energy-saving mode.
Daylight is a key factor in the control of our sleep-wake cycle: this ensures happiness hormones flow through our veins and we get enough vitamin D. For this reason: be sure to go outside frequently during the cold season. A morning or midday walk is usually easy to fit into your day-to-day routine. Even if the sky is overcast, you can still tap into the power of the sun. Alternatively, you can buy a daylight lamp with 2'500 to 10'000 lux. Sit in front of it for about 20 minutes every day, preferably first thing in the morning. In this way you can effortlessly brighten up your mood while enjoying a hearty breakfast or reading.
There’s one thing your worries are after above all else: your attention. So devote a short, exclusive quarter of an hour to them each day. Spend this time writing down your fears and thoughts. In this way you will have put them in their place and your thoughts will no longer have to keep coming back to them all day long. When you’re finished, walk away from what you’ve written down and devote yourself to the here and now as best you can.
Did you know that your olfactory nerve is directly linked to your brain? Scents activate the limbic system, among other things. This area of the brain is responsible for emotions and releases substances that create joy and a sense of well-being. So it can definitely be a good idea to get out the fragrance lamp and essential oils. Citrus scents as well as vanilla, rose and tonka oil are generally considered to be uplifting. When making your choice, the best thing is just to follow your nose.
We humans are social beings. Loneliness is not good for anyone in the long run. For this reason, be sure to deliberately keep in touch with people who are good for you – even if only virtually. Make phone calls or meet for group video chats, online aperitifs or brunches via Skype. There are no limits to how creative you can be.
Before this corona winter, we often wished we had time to do things that seemed too impossible to fit into our schedule – whether reading the newspaper before breakfast, clearing out the apartment or finally starting last holiday’s photo album. So now’s the time to do it.
Nothing but horror stories in the media, and day-to-day conversations are not especially uplifting either? What we focus our thoughts on has a significant impact on how we feel and on our health. Since evolution has programmed us to focus on problematic things more than on positive things (unpleasant, but true), it’s important to keep consciously focusing on positives. One effective tool for this is a gratitude diary. Every evening, write down at least three things you’re grateful to “the world” for (how supportive a colleague was at work, a good book, the colours of the autumn forest,) and at least three things you’re grateful to yourself for (your composure, the great plans you’ve made, your courage to say no to something). In this way, you can programme your brain to automatically perceive positive things more clearly – especially before going to sleep at night.
Even though it’s cold outside: try to get plenty of exercise during the dark months. Physical activity increases the release of happiness hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Walk to work, do gymnastics or weight training at home or pay a visit to your yoga mat – this way you have a much better chance of outsmarting the winter blues.
We tend to hugely underestimate how much our mood is influenced by what we eat. Many substances (such as omega-3 fats, B vitamins, magnesium and selenium) impact our emotional health and also our mood. So why not end the day with a delicious turmeric latte? This “golden milk” is full of ingredients that have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or endorphin-releasing effect.
You can prepare the basic mixture in advance: put 120 g turmeric powder (approx. one cup) in a pot with 5 dl water. Allow the mixture to thicken over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the consistency is nice and creamy but not solid. Take the saucepan off the cooker and add the remaining ingredients: 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp ginger powder, ½ tsp black pepper (preferably freshly ground), ½ tsp cardamom powder and ¼ tsp nutmeg powder.
Once the mixture has cooled completely, you can pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge. To make a turmeric latte, heat a cup of cow's milk or vegetable milk in a saucepan with a teaspoon of the paste. It tastes especially good with a teaspoon of honey. Cheers!