As the days are getting shorter, golden balmy evenings are replaced by dark, windy nights, and we have to admit: winter is (truly) coming.
Many of us love the summer and its weekends at the beach, packed social agenda and family holidays. So how can we gracefully embrace the change of seasons, and learn to love Australia’s colder months?
Here are our 10 tips on avoiding seasonal blues and making the most of winter.
1. Stay Social
While picnics at the beach may not be on the cards anymore, make a point
to carry on with weekly social events. Positive socials interactions are one of the
strongest mood-boosters there is, and many studies have linked it to longevity and wellbeing. Whether it be going out to dinner, strolling through an art gallery with a friend, catching up in a cosy cafe or hosting a cheese & wine night - make sure you spend time with your loved ones.
2. Stay Active
We all know how good exercise is for us - and although getting out of a warm bed to go run in the cold can be very unappealing… it's oh so good for you. Daily exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, in fact, studies indicate that over-exercising can weaken your immune system. Mild daily exercise, on the other hand, will do wonders - stimulating your lymphatic system, boosting your endorphin levels and kick-starting your metabolism, all while combating that grey-groggy feeling.
So whether it be a pilates class, 20min of yoga in your living room, a fast-paced walk around the block or a short run to the nearest park - do it!
Having a running playlist is also a good way to get pumped -Rufus du Sol, Flume, Golden Features, Peking Duck, MUTO and ODESZA are just some of the artists worth exploring. If you're more of a podcast fan - try The Healthcode by Sarah’s Day and Kurt Tilse for tips and tricks for health, fitness, and motivation.
3. Make The Most Of The Outdoors
Make the most of the sunny days with outdoor activities. This is
the perfect time of year for walks and hikes: the vegetation is lush, the air is cooler, the sun is weaker and the tourists have gone home. This is the time of year to go for long walks in the bush or along the coastline (and end up at a local cafe for hot coffee and banana bread of course), and explore the surrounding national parks.
To my fellow Sydneysiders; the Blue mountains are well known, but Marramarra,
Garigal and Berowra national parks, as well as Royal National park south of the
bridge, are other gorgeous hiking destinations within 1 hour of the city.
4. Bring Hygge Home
Even if we are making the most of the outdoors, the colder months invariably mean more time spent indoors -so make those indoors a place you want to be in. Creating a tidy, aesthetically pleasing, cosy environment is more important than we often realise, and can impact our mental health by reducing anxiety and stress.
Hygge is a Danish term which has become very popular in the last few years, and can be roughly translated to “cosy & comfortable”. It describes an atmosphere, rather than a style. Dinner with friends can be hygge, a good book and a cup of tea can be hygge.
Invest in candles, warm-yellow lighting, plants, play around with textures, have cosy throws and cushions, but strive to keep your interior tidy and bright. Opening all the windows and aerating your house for 10 minutes a day is also important to renew the air.
5. Take Care Of Your Body
Skin Care: Cold dry air and scratchy jumpers mean that our skin can become parched and irritated in winter- so be sure to pamper, for example by massaging with coconut or argon oil under the shower. Moisturising properly will also help extend that summer glow a bit longer.
Keeping Hydrated: Because we sweat less (and generally move less) than in summer, we easily forget to drink enough- as cliché as it sounds, starting the day with a hot mug of lemon water or tea, is a good way to warm up and re-hydrated the body.
Relax Your Muscles: Being slightly chilly often causes us to subconsciously tense our muscles, leaving us with tight achy shoulders and back. Stretching, even for just 10 minutes a day, will help diffuse the tension, reduce tissue inflammation, and can also have a positive effect on your digestion and immune system.
6. Wrap Up To Avoid Muscle Stiffness
Don’t forget to wrap up! There is nothing worse than persisting in summer dresses and sandals, and shivering your way through the day- as well as inducing muscle-stiffness, it can damage your energy levels. So make the most of
winter by exploring the winter fashion trends: time to bring out those extravagant coats and cosy scarfs.
7. Make The Most Of Your Mornings
The shortest day of the year in Australia is the 22 of June, when the sun rises last in Melbourne at 7:36 am and sets less than 9 and a half hours later. While that
invariably means dark evenings, we are lucky enough to have light mornings throughout the year (a little thought to all the Parisians for whom the sun doesn’t rise until 8:30am in winter). So make the most of those hours and wake up with the sun.
On top of improving your mood, exposure to daylight right after waking helps
regulate your circadian rhythm and boost those “awaking” hormones. Matthew Walker is a British researcher who has dedicated most of his life to the study of sleep. His book “Why We Sleep” is worth reading- and stresses the importance of
good quality sleep.
Clean up your sleep hygiene by getting at least 8 hours of shuteye every night, reducing light-exposure in the evening (turning down the lights in your house, installing blue light filters on your screens, reducing their brightness, having black-out curtains in your bedroom), having morning and nighttime routines and keeping regular bedtimes.
8. Embrace Seasonal Flavours
We live in a world where the shelves of our grocers never change - blissfully oblivious to seasonal growing and consumption. We can eat strawberries in July, zucchini, pumpkin and grapes all year round, the same-tasting apples every single day.
Reconnect to the seasons by eating local, seasonal veg, such as mandarins, oranges, beetroots and carrots- all packed with vitamins. Explore winter’s warming flavours - think warm honey porridge and golden milk lattes in the morning, cinnamon roasted roots, cauliflower soup, Stewed fruits and crumbles for dessert. Along with pushing you to try new recipes, eating seasonally makes each season something to look forward to:
- Autumn brings figs, apples, grapes, blackberries, avocado, beetroot, green beans, carrot, and beetroot.
- Winter is a good season for kiwi, pears, mandarins, grapefruits, oranges, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, and broad beans.
- Spring announces the return of cherries, blueberries, asparagus, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and nectarines.
- Summer is best for apricots, boysenberries, currants, cantaloupes, rock melons, beef heart tomatoes, corn, cucumber, and zucchinis.
9. Good Mood Food
While we’re on the topic of nutrition, lets talk about the role of diet in mood:
Iceland, despite it’s bad weather, suffers less than their scandi neighbours from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This outstanding health is attributed to their traditional diet, which is extremely rich in healthy fats. They consume large amounts of fatty fish, Icelandic skyr yoghurt, berries and endemic moss (added to their black rye bread)- all bursting with omega 3s and antioxidants.
Take a page from the Icelandic diet and try this easy and yummy dinner combo:
- Grilled fish, carrot & parsnip purée (surprisingly tasty), served with a lot of winter greens, chilli, turmeric and lemon.
- For dessert: greek yogurt, berries and crushed almonds with a drizzle of honey, or a warming rooibos tea.
10. Try A New Hobby
Summer evenings were made for post-work surfing and BBQs on the beach, while winter is all about throwing our PJ's on and spending some quality time with our Netflix accounts... right?
Try finding a hobby that complements the cooler days instead - whether it be skiing, painting, reading, sewing, baking or indoor climbing... or simply inviting all your friends to your candle-lit hygge home to join you.
Hopefully these little tips will help you fight off grogginess and enjoy the crisp winter mornings (with a hot mug of golden milk in hand). And if you have any tricks of your own, we’d love to hear about them!
- Call Me Kath: Autumn Transitioning Tips & Tricks
- Call Me Kath: Autumn Vegetable Stew
- The Economist: Cocoa By Candlelight
- Physiology & Behavior/ Vol 48, Issue 5: Natural summer and winter sunlight
- exposure patterns in seasonal affective disorder (C.I. Eastman)
- PMC: Minimal resistance training improves daily energy expenditure and fat
- oxidation (E.P. Kirk et al.)
- Journal of Cellular Physiology/ Vol 231, Issue 7: Stretching Impacts Inflammation
- Resolution in Connective Tissue (L. Berrueta et al.)
- International Journal of Sports Medicine: Mucosal (Secretory) Immune System
- Response to Exercise of Varying Intensity and During Overtraining (L.T. Mackinnon, S. Hooper)
- Journal of Urban Health / Vol 80, Issue 4: The built environment and mental health