Settle the Winter Worries
Tomorrow is Blue Monday.
Apparently Blue Monday isn’t based on the results of in-depth research, but instead on a calculation by a British holiday company, based on current weather conditions and debt levels. But the idea caught on, and many dread this day. It appears that winter harbours more stress, anxiety and depression than any other season.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, where us humans are considered a reflection of the nature around us, winter is associated with the emotion fear. A little fear is healthy and protects us from getting into trouble, but a higher dose can cause a raised sense of anxiety. It also makes sense if we consider that our ancestors would naturally have felt more fear in winter, worrying about having suitable shelter, warmth and food.
If you find yourself obsessing over uncertainties, overthinking, overeating, waking up repeatedly or very early with a busy mind, or suffering with back or knee pain, you may have winter anxiety.
Some tips to find things less stressful in winter:
- Shallow breathing can raise your heart rate and make you feel panicked. So breathe deeply. Put your hands on your belly to check that you breathe in fully.
- Eat warm, grounding and wholesome foods like root vegetables. Avoid sugar, gluten, dairy, soft drinks and junk foods, which have been found to correlate with stress. Go easy on the caffeine, as in excess it can trigger panic-like feelings.
- Sleep more. Go to bed half an hour earlier, or, if you can afford it, even wake up half an hour later. Sleep deprivation is one of the primary causes of anxiety. The nights are longer in winter, and so should your sleep be.
- Limit your screen time. Research has found too much time spent in front of a screen to affect the nervous system and how we process emotion. Ironically it is in winter when we tend to spend longer indoors in front of a computer or TV. Wrap up warm and go outside.
- Practise mindfulness. Mindfulness is said to benefit your mood, well-being and health. Focus on a small sensory pleasure, like a mug of hot chocolate, a warm blanket or a piece of music you love. Experience it as deeply as you possibly can, with all you senses, engage with your environment in a peaceful, positive way.
- Get support. Stop behaving like a superhero trying to do everything on your own. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed, talk to somebody when it all gets too much. Verbalising a problem can already be helpful in itself.
- Have a foot massage to focus your energy away from your cluttered head, or acupuncture to bring you back to balance and take the edge off your worries.
Hot off the press: check out the new Stress Buster Clinic in Chobham!