Has the cooler weather and lack of sunshine got you feeling down? It could be a touch of the SADs. ‘Seasonal affective disorder’ is a very common condition that affects many people over the colder months. The shorter days and decreased exposure to sunshine can manifest in oversleeping, low energy, irritability, sugar cravings and avoiding activities. Add to that social distancing, travel restrictions and isolation and, for many of us, this year’s SADs is even sadder. But fear not, we’ve got 7 simple ways to embrace the outdoors to beat the winter blues.
Studies show that being among nature eases stress, anxiety and depression — even in your own backyard. So find a space to relax and recharge outdoors… it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. You can create a divine deck with a wicker set or a little bit of balcony bliss with an alfresco occasional chair, lots of cushions and a throw for chilly weather. Don’t forget a yummy drink and book or magazine — ahh! heavenly.
Where possible, let your interior spill out to your alfresco areas with sliding glass doors or bifolds opening to the deck or garden. If space allows, having an outdoor area to lounge, dine, barbecue, entertain and spend time with family is wonderful for mental health, while also allowing extra square footage for the household to spread out. Even when spending time indoors, you can open the house to let nature flow in.
If you don’t have access to an outdoor space or you simply want to bring more of the good feels inside, invest in some indoor plants. Plants are well known to help to elevate mood, which is a great way to beat the winter blues. Consider creating, for instance, a reading nook with a comfy armchair beside a window surrounded by luscious plants, or fill your bathroom with hanging plants for a jungle vibe.
Even just a 30-minute walk outdoors every day has a significantly positive impact on lowering stress. A balance of healthy sunshine, too, is important in lifting mood as it’s said to release the happy hormone: serotonin. Schedule a daily walk or jog in your local park, reserve or beach to boost your mood and get the blood flowing. Your dog will love you all the more for it too!
A healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies (and minimal caffeine, alcohol and sugar) has a huge impact on physical and mental health. You could even keep active, well-nourished and soak up the sun all in one by growing and tending your own veggie garden or pallet herb garden affixed to the fence in smaller areas.
Give yourself time to switch off for a little bit every single day. That could mean sitting quietly with your partner, cuddling the dog or stealing 15 minutes in solitude (hiding from the kids!). If the sun is out, bask in the gentle rays for a few minutes to soak up some vitamin D or beneath some shade on hot days and let the balmy breeze recharge you.
Nothing beats to healing powers of a good night’s sleep. If anxiety has got you tossing and turning, play some soothing nature sounds on Spotify or iTunes to doze off to, like a gentle storm or lapping ocean. If you’re lucky enough to get a quiet moment to yourself on a Sunday afternoon, you could even steal a sneaky snooze out on the sunbed.