Winter can be a real downer – and it’s not just the cold weather that does it. We’ve put together a quick list of what you can do to stay happy this winter.
As I sweat and swelter my way through summer, all I can think of is ‘I can’t wait for winter’.
But when the winter chill permeates down to the bone, I find myself staring at the calendar of my phone counting the days until the sun comes back.
One thing a lot of people don’t realise is that Australia can get bloody cold. Even Australians. It catches us all out.
I’m sure many people think ‘Australian winter’ is just a funny oxymoron. But when the Sydney summer’s over and autumn comes to an end, the mercury can really drop. And along with the good weather, our good moods can disappear too.
But there are ways to combat the winter miseries.
We tend to deal with winter the same way we do with lots of the challenges we face: through a careful blend of food, comfort and travel!
12 ways to stay sane this winter
1. Boost your happy chemical
Serotonin is strongly connected with happiness and wellbeing, so eating a diet rich in this important amino compound over winter will definitely help fend off the cold-weather blues.
2. Nurture and supplement your sleep-wake hormone
Melatonin is more important for you over winter than other times of the year. Melatonin is the chemical that helps regulate your sleep pattern. Especially as we transition to winter and nights get longer, waking up can be hard.
People underestimate the importance of quality sleep, and making sure your Circadian Rhythm, which dictates your sleep-wake patterns, is a big part of that. Eating plenty of melatonin-rich foods will help so much over winter.
Food that’s high in melatonin includes bananas, oats, ginger and tomatoes.
3. Keep your Vit D levels high
Vitamin D – often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is likely to take a knock over winter, when daylight hours are less and you’re not as keen to go outside.
There are plenty of foods that are high in Vitamin D, from fatty fish to cheese. But recent studies by the National Institute of Health shows Australians are struggling to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D.
Over winter, it seems eggs are the best way to go for your sunshine vitamin hit. Aussie GP Dr Ginni Mansberg explains that “in just one egg there are 11 different vitamins and nutrients, packed into just 300 kilojoules.”
In fact, according to research from NPO Australian Eggs, 82% of daily Vitamin D in 2 eggs, so have your winter sunny side up this year!
Making sure your bed is as comfy as possible will ensure you get the right amount of sleep over winter. As we mentioned earlier, your sleep patterns over winter are vital and can change quite a bit.
Things like investing in flannelette sheets and getting an electric blanket will help, but here’s a full list on maxing your bed’s snuggle factor over winter.
5. Reduce blue light exposure
On the same lines as making sure you’re comfortable before you sleep and helping regulate your sleeping patterns, it’s also important how you fall asleep.
Research into things like reading your phone before bed has shown the blue light from phone and tablet screens prevents your brain from relaxing and entering into sleep mode.
Some phones have a ‘bedtime’ setting that gives out a more orange light or you can buy blue-blocker glasses. Alternatively, put your phone away and pick up a book instead.
It’s amazing how much drier the air is over winter – even when it’s rainy outside. The humidity (or lack of) in the air in the colder months can affect your skin and make your face feel tight and uncomfortable.
If you moisturise regularly anyway, make sure you use a slightly heavier cream and a skin oil to maintain your skin’s suppleness. And if you don’t moisturise at all, get onto it. Fellow guys, I’m looking at you.
For an insight into what skincare products I think work well for us men, here’s my rundown of skincare prods for blokes.
Sometimes, all it takes to get through winter with your sanity intact is finding a place you can go outside your home where you feel welcome, comfortable and happy. Find a good pub to bunker down in.
If you’re in Sydney, Balmain is probably your best bet. This suburb is full of great pubs that will take you under their wing and make you feel like a local in no time. Hit the Exchange Hotel or the East Village Hotel first to see what I mean.
8. Warm your cockles
Along the lines of a good Aussie pub, having something to warm you up from the inside on those cold nights is the perfect way to combat winter.
As a whisky fan, I’ve discovered a multitude of excellent Australian whiskies readily available these days. Here are three I love to pour out.
9. Hit the beach
It might seem a strange thing to do in winter, but fresh sea air and as much daylight as possible can make a big difference. Rugging up for a walk along the coast can revitalise, and the sound and sight of the sea is very relaxing.
Best of all, with fewer tourists around, you often have the beach almost to yourself over winter.
10. Embrace the cold
Sometimes the best thing to do is to pack your big coat and head inland. The countryside really knows how to do winter properly. Think open fires, comfort food (especially pies!) and beautiful scenery.
11. Go north to the tropics
We’re lucky in Australia to be able to get to tropical climates without leaving the country. A short flight will take you out of your winter doldrums to the warm, clement climes of the tropical dry season.
Alternatively, head further afield for a break in Asia or the Pacific islands. Travel in the Australian winter months tends to be cheaper anyway, so it’s a win-win.
12. Even better, chase the summer
The next step, which is a little more extreme, is to chase the summer. Leave the southern hemisphere completely and head to Europe or North America.
It’s something we’ve done over the past few years and it really mitigates the misery of winter. I think it’s Christina’s dream to live in an eternal summer. We’re still in negotiations over that!
How do you cope with the winter months? Do you have a favourite trick or technique for dodging the cold? Tell us in the comments!