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Updated: Mar 26, 2022

Each year I notice how people’s mood and energy seem to become lower as winter progresses. For some, the gloom of the winter weather can make them quite miserable and create a dark cloud that follows them around a bit like Eeyore.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can impact many, to various extents, through being exposed to less daylight hours and the fact that long weekends are few and far between. Unlike the festive season and New Year’s where many make plans for social gatherings, holidays, getting active and having fun; in winter many just hunker down and hope to make it through without falling ill too often. However we can take back control of our moods by getting excited about life over the colder months.

Firstly, moving our bodies releases endorphins and increases blood flow, so it is important not to let your exercise regime fall away over winter. I often hear from clients that it is just too cold, too dark or too wet to exercise. But I say toughen up, wear clothing that protects you, find a buddy and get out on chilly winter nights or mornings for a brisk walk. Or find a friend who has some home exercise equipment and with the help of Pinterest create some fun partner workouts together. Or get to a couple of hot yoga or Pilates classes a week. Head to the local indoor pool for a swim or join a squash club. Join your kids for Friday nights inline hockey disco nights. Whatever you choose to do, make exercise and movement important all year round. No excuses! This alone will help you feel better.

Next make plans as you would for summer. Take a week off if possible or plan a extra long weekend in late winter to take time out. Some opt for a warm tropical island getaway, some choose a quiet winter break in the Coromandel and others choose a winter wonderland experience at the snow. Whatever the choice, even if it works best to have some peaceful days in your own home, the most important thing is to plan and book it. The purpose behind this is to build anticipation and eagerness. Schedule something to look forward to over the next couple of months. Make plans for how you will spend this time. Where can you go? Who can you visit? What book will you read? What skill/craft might you learn? Get the kids involved if this is a family break.

Also make smaller plans maybe once or twice a month. Maybe a day trip to Raglan for takeout on the beach. Or a winter hike. Or a day trip to the hot pools in Te Aroha or Rotorua. Or a mid-winter Christmas dinner with the wider family or friends.

Finally, always be grateful. I mention this in almost every conversation because I believe in the power of appreciation so much. Look for the goodness in winter. Is it snuggling beside a fireplace, popcorn and movie nights, soaking in the bath, flannelette sheets, gumboots and winter coats, frost on the lawns to crunch with our shoes, the sun eventually coming through on a foggy morning? Is it a good reason to stay in bed a little longer on a Sunday, no flies or mosquitoes and no sunscreen stains? Or how about sinking into a great book in your dressing gown, yummy hot Sunday night roast dinners, warm socks and hot drinks? Shall I go on with the abundance of citrus fruit or the nutritious soups that you can whip up in minutes?

There really is so much to enjoy. Be sure you are aware of the wonders of winter and life will feel so much lighter and warmer. And guess what? Before you know it, the gorgeous signs of spring will be sprouting before you get a moment to feel any doom and gloom.

“I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter!” (unknown)

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