Top 5 winter pick me ups

It’s that time of year when Mother Nature ‘flicks the switch’ and suddenly there are more cloudy days than we’d like. This can make us feel a little gloomier, be less active and let's face it, eat a little more of what we know we shouldn’t.

All of this can impact on our health but there are plenty of things you can do to help you look and feel better. We've prepared a list on ways to ward off those winter blues. Here are a few ideas to help keep the spring in your step:

1. Calm cravings
The colder months and lack of light can reduce our body’s natural production of serotonin – the mood related chemical that gives us a feeling of wellbeing and naturally regulates hunger. This can trigger the urge to eat a little more than normal and it can often be the wrong sorts of food for healthy weight control.

Unfortunately, we tend to increase intake of simple carbs found in foods such as sweets, white bread and white rice. This can quickly raise blood sugar, which is inevitably followed by that dreaded ‘crash’ in energy and mood.

Be prepared by putting healthier snack options on your shopping list so you can head those cravings off before they hit. Walnuts are a great option as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote a happier mood and take the edge off hunger with a ‘healthy fat’.

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Nuts are a good source of 'healthy fats' making them a great snack

Munch on some vegies such as carrots, snow peas and celery. These do contain carbs, but they are a healthier slower-release version of carbohydrates so are a fantastic option. Try them with a dab of peanut butter or hummus to make them more of treat. Air-popped popcorn is another healthy snack for a fun change.

And if you suffer from 3pm chocolate cravings, opt for a quality, high-cacao dark chocolate. This contains chemicals that stimulate endorphins, while also providing antioxidants and flavonoids to help reduce blood pressure and boost your immune system. It is surprising how savouring a small amount of dark chocolate can stop sugar cravings dead in their tracks. Try it and see!

2. Soup for the soul
The simple act of making soup can have a wonderfully therapeutic effect – chopping ingredients, getting a broth bubbling and filling the house with heavenly aromas. It is a healthy way to replace the usual stodgy winter foods, yet still fill you up.

Soups based on a stock made with bones are high in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, while the connective tissue contains amino acids to help with inflammation and promote healthy joints. Add to that a variety of vegetables and legumes to boost immunity, help control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and add valuable fibre.

This fresh and filling soup will hit the spot. Get the recipe here

Click here to read some surprising information about the nutritions behind bone broths which can easily form the basis of a variety of soups and are packed with health benefits. We also have a super simple chicken soup recipe, perfect for the colder months!

3. Glowing skin
We all know that awful dry and flaky feeling on our skin during the cold winter months. The simple reason that develops is because your skin can lose around 25 per cent of its ability to hold moisture when it is cold. You can help counter that effect by eating foods containing healthy fats – think raw nuts, oily fish or tahini spread.

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Avocados contain oils and vitamins that add moisture and repair skin

Feel like a well-deserved rest? Using an avocado to create a homemade avocado mask revitalises and hydrates skin remarkably well.

The avocado’s natural oils and vitamins A and E content give it antioxidant properties to help repair damaged skin, add moisture and lock it into the skin for longer.

Why not try this 5-minute DIY avocado mask?

  1. Clean your hands and remove the avocado pit.
  2. Mash the avocado pulp into a fine paste with a fork.
  3. Rub the inside of the avocado skins against your clean face.
  4. Then apply the fine avocado paste onto your face, lie back and relax for a few minutes.
  5. Rinse with lukewarm water.

4. Hug for health
Did you know? A good hug with a loved one can be a powerful mood tonic to ward off winter blues. Why? It reduces cortisol levels while boosting oxytocin. Oxytocin is a chemical which reduces feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. Hugs can give you a serotonin lift too, which gives you that warm happy inner glow, so take the chance to share the love with your spouse, friends and family whenever you feel the urge.

5. Digital detox
Our lives are full of screens; whether it's work emails, social media or Skyping with some friends. It might be a good time to give your eyes some rest. Research shows that people exposed to blue light at night can have increased incidences of sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes and several cancers.

If not for the health benefits, a detox of at least 24 hours is a great time to test your technology addiction. A digital detox can reduce stress and give your eyes a bit of a break from all that screentime. Instead, why not re-read one of your favourite books or run a bath with essential oils. Who knows, you could end up having more time on your hands than you thought! 

What are your go-to pick-me-ups in the winter months?

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