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Take the weather with you

A change in season can trigger a slump in mood, especially as dreary, cold days become the norm. Here’s what you can do about it.

A change in season can trigger a slump in mood, especially as dreary, cold days become the norm. Here’s what you can do about it

If you asked me which season I liked the most, I’d instantly say summer. I love lying in the sun slathered in sunscreen before diving off a pontoon into crisp, cold water. We socialise more during the warmer weather, and relaxed barbecues on the deck are a regular occurrence. At other times we go off camping where there’s no cellphone coverage and work is a distant memory. I find it easy to feel happy when the sun is shining.

But I notice my mood changes when the evenings become cooler and the leaves turn brown, gold and crimson. I don’t like to be cold, and my hair doesn’t like getting caught in the rain!

For some people, winter can mean more than a slight change in their frame of mind – or a few bad hair days. The colder, darker weeks can bring on rheumatic aches and pains, and even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects people when there is less sunlight. Symptoms range from trouble sleeping and lack of energy to weight gain and feelings of depression or anxiety. SAD can also mimic clinical depression. Fight off any symptoms by increasing your daily intake of sunlight in winter – make an effort to go for a walk at lunchtime or get out for a couple of hours on sunny days.

Regular exposure to artificial bright light can have beneficial results, as well as keeping up your dietary intake of vitamin D (fish are rich in this depression-fighting vitamin). Doing more of what you love can also help you during these ‘blue’ cycles, as well as therapy to uncover the underlying reasons behind gloomy symptoms.

When the seasons change, I choose to notice the good things that arrive with the cooler weather. I remind myself of the aroma of veggie soup simmering in the kitchen, the whimsy of playing in puddles while walking our dog, and the comfort of snuggling under blankets on the couch – something my children have always loved. By being conscious of all the positive aspects of winter and grateful for what I have, I’m able to adapt to the season and truly enjoy it. I add moments of bliss to my week, such as visiting the West Coast beach where I grew up, taking long deep baths or catching up with a friend at a cosy cafe.

All of these activities allow me to enjoy the colder weather and help me stay positive. I also wear colour. Winter always has people racing for dark shades, and it’s noticeable how clothes in the mall become darker as the weather gets colder. Choose to wear something bright and notice how your outlook brightens as well.

Taking steps, even small ones, to choose a positive attitude, is the key to turning a dreary winter into a memorable, happy one.

Tracy Manu is a lifestyle coach and mother in a blended family of five teenagers. For more inspiration, visit her blog at www.blossom.net.nz

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