It’s winter. The days are short. Traveling to far away places is (almost) completely out of the question at the moment. We’ve had Covid last year keeping us all at home and for a lot of us things are feeling tough. It’s also the season for colds, flu’s and for some of us - SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

What are the best ways to boost our wellbeing to get through the rest of the winter?

Move: Just because it’s winter - don’t give up on moving! The days may be short and this may make it more difficult to get out and exercise - but it doesn’t need to stop you from doing short bursts of activity when you can. Physical exercise has been shown to be as useful as an antidepressant in some studies - and you don’t need to be doing a lot. A couple of hours a week is enough to help improve mood. Even simple things like taking the stairs instead of the lift, sweeping up leaves and doing the housework can be counted towards your daily dose of movement.

Eat: Don’t forget - the best way to build resilience both mentally and physically comes from (apart from washing your hands!) eating well. Nutritious food doesn't need to cost the earth and can provide you with some of the vitamins and minerals necessary to help you get through a cold or other illness. Now is a great time to get into soups and stews, slow cooked meats and warm hearty vegetable based meals. If you are feeling particularly run down - some supplementation can help reduce the duration of a cold (1).

Sunshine: The Ministry of Health suggests that 27% of New Zealanders are below the recommended blood level of vitamin D. This can have impact on mood, bone health and overall mortality (2) It’s much more difficult to get vitamin D in the winter - as you need to spend a little more time outside in the sun than you would in the summer time to get your daily dose. The recommendation is to get outside in the middle of the day during winter to get your vitamin D hit. Always be sunsmart and if you have very sensitive skin you should consider covering up after about an hour (3).

So bundle up, head outside, make the most of sunny moments and fill the kitchen with delicious smells and nutritious food - you’ll be back at the beach before you know it!

Helen Duyvestyn, Mental Health Nurse, (RcN, MHSc)

Need extra support to get through these winter months? You can always lean on Clearhead for a mental health pick me up by using our tools, or chatting with our friendly chatbot. You can also book therapy with me or book with another available therapist through Clearhead.

References:

(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32342851/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3012634/

(3) https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/food-activity-and-sleep/healthy-eating/v itamin-d