Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of winter. Understatement! Come October I turn into a bit of a bear (metaphorically speaking) and all I want to do is hibernate. Wake me up on the first of May when the earth comes alive; when I can see the world in multicolour, hear the birds sing, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and I can walk around in shorts and flip-flops! No amount of Halloweens, Christmases or Easters could ever make up for my beloved summer.

Never mind the flues, colds and other wintry ailments, it’s the short grey days and long dreary nights that hit me like a ton of bricks. Come 9pm I’m ready for bed, and if you let me I’ll happily sleep until 10am. The problem is I can’t do that. I have a job, a husband, and a life to live!

Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms range from: depressing thoughts, lack of energy, mood swings, social withdrawal, decreased interest and concentration in work, increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings, increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, sluggishness and lethargy… these can profoundly affect work and relationships.

Not everyone is affected though, and to some this may seem like a bit of a melodramatic shpill, but I know I am not alone! If you, like me, also get hit by S.A.D, if you get low and grumpy, and want to do nothing but sleep and eat, do not despair, there are ways to combat this without resorting to chemical cocktails or antidepressants.

Here’s what I find works best and why:

1. Eat plenty of happy foods

Alcohol, aspartame, caffeine, mercury, lack of light, stress, poor diet, lack of DHA, lack of exercise and genetics, all deplete Serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. The right nutrition can result in big improvements in your health as well as in your mood.

90% of the Serotonin in your body is in your gut. When you raise the levels of this neurotransmitter in your gut, you’ll notice your mental constrictions dissolve.

So, if you think it’s ok to eat bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cake, think again. It’s vital you avoid these at all cost if you want to start to feel better. The rewards? Feel more energetic, be in great form more of the time, think more clearly, perform better, and… fit into your clothes more comfortably.

So, make sure you eat plenty of happy foods, as much as you can in their raw form: lots of berries, season vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh fish, good quality oils such as coconut oil, Udo’s oil and extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of clean water.

2. Get your dose of Vitamin D

Essential for optimal health, yet, if like most people you work indoors all day, you may be deficient and as a result feeling low in energy. To make things worse, the long dark nights cause an overproduction of Melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

So, the best way to counteract this is to get enough sunlight. It is harder to get it in winter, but you can still get some of the benefits by spending time outdoors every day. Get outside and go for a walk, a run or a cycle… or at least sit by a window. Eat your lunch outside. Even if it’s cold and cloudy, the natural light will do you a whole lot of good.

Other things that can hugely benefit you are supplementation with Vitamin D3 and UVB Light Therapy.

3. NLP yourself Happy

The fact is that bad nutritional habits, lack of exercise and not enough light negatively affect your neuro-chemistry; that is the quality of your thoughts. So, once you’re eating right, exercising regularly and getting out in the fresh air more often, you are bound to feel better and think more useful thoughts.

This is a good time to put your NLP skills into practice! Use the STFU mantra to shut up the self-deprecating inner-dialogue. Use self-hypnosis to get into whatever frame of mind you prefer to be in, or get hold of a professionally made CD, listen to it every day for a few weeks and notice the difference.

Set yourself a WWFG; a winter well formed goal! Something you can work on and look forward to. I know I have! So I may not be able to lie on a beach for the next few months but I am going to make sure I do that asap and that when that happens I am in the best physical and mental shape ever.

If I can you can, turn the winter blues into your own winter wonderland!

Author's Bio: 

Anna Aparicio is regarded as Ireland's top female IINLP/Hypnosis Coach. She uses Neuro-linguistic Programming, Neuro-hynotic Repatterning, and other psychology tools to develop profound and lasting changes in your life. As a Self-image and Confidence Expert, she specialises in: weight loss, eliminating cravings and overeating, boosting confidence and motivation, time management... Anna has featured on RTE's The Afternoon Show as The Confidence Coach, is regularly published in top Irish lifestyle publications, and is highly recommended by The Irish Institute of NLP.

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