Watching those crowds of queuing for shops, pubs and food outlets and then listening to the interviews its was as though we are coming out of a long dark winter into a new spring. That made me think about the normal winter blues and how happy we all are to see the sun again. So the question is, is hibernation normal for Hunan’s? Well, the answer is yes, but not sleeping like a bear. More like slowing down and losing some energy that we would normally get from the sun light. But, this years has been winter with knobs on as Covid has forced us to change our normal behaviours. WE have discovered that a Covid winter is is much worse than a normal winter.
So, the Covid winter is over. It seems to have been a long time coming as the warm weather stretches out before us. The clocks have gone forward and we need to enjoy this summer as never before. We have until the clocks go back in October to enjoy it. What wil you do with it?
Getting your mood up
The effect of the lack of light has led to the inevitable drop in our level of Vitamin D, and a subsequent drop in our level of serotonin. This in a normal winter leads to feelings of down-ness often described as SAD syndrome. Sometimes I wonder why we bothered to move away from the equator where the levels of vitamin D are naturally high and SAD syndrome has never been heard of. This year Covid had added an extra layer and had an extra effect. Many people are more down they they would normally be at this time of year.
Cutting the carbs
In the cold, damp and dark of winter we seek comfort that through evolution has been given to us by eating carbohydrates. In winter most diets become more stodgy as our level of carbs increases. The common access carbs is in cake, bread, pastas, puddings, biscuits, and so on. The magic is that carbs kick your brain into producing endorphins and serotonin that make you feel good which is why they are called comfort food.
Carbs = comfort
Now, lots of us have been doing then Covid 5k. That is not a run it is the amount of weight that we have put on during covid lockdown. Now we need to get moving, adjust the diet and get rid of it. The magic is that if you exercise out of door not only will you be burning off those calories but you will be building you vitamin D stores as well.
Just twenty minutes of raised heart rate will make your brain secrete happy hormone and endorphins that will make you feel happier. The drive from the health authorities is to get everyone walking for at least half an hour a day. If we all did this we reduce our levels of illness, improve our mental health, loose some weight and get happier. Of course it goes without saying that it would also save the NHS time and money.
Take a holiday
That is easy to say but harder to do. Our summer holiday give most of us the opportunity to reset our system and replenish our emotions. We could go away to the sun and get our endorphin hit that way though this year it may be all in the UK. For some it may even be a staycation at home. It might work better for us if this year we take our main holiday in the winter. Would it not make more sense to enjoy the British summer at home, even if it is a bit wet it still has long days of sunlight. Then next when it is dark and cold and the world has opened up again we could jump onto a plane and go somewhere hot and sunny. If we did that we would boost our Vitamin D in the winter, increase our serotonin production and keep our mood raised.
Time to get social
Many of us, either individually or as families, have been living like hermits. Now is the time to get out and meet people or invite people in. It would be garden first and then indoor meals and parties. We need to. Socialise, have parties, cook meals and enjoy the company of others. Being with others, sharing the feeling of belonging and sharing fun and laughter all increase our levels of happiness which also affects our brain chemistry and mood. They call it Hyyge in Sweden.
Did you know that normally when we have particularly dark and cold winter that birth rates can rise by up to 18%. We do know that good positive love making does raise the endorphins and increases happiness. It also helps us to keep warm on a cold night. However, the enforced lockdown of covid has led, in the USA, to the lowest conception rate for over one hundred years. Perhaps, after lockdown, with rising rates of serotonin people’s mood will rise and we may even see a post covid baby boom.
Most of nature takes a break in the winter. The one species that does not slow down, that carries on in a mad dash, is us human beings. Well not this year. I have watched so many people almost grind to a halt, doing less and less as the months have gone by. This has often been the symptoms of depression. Now we need to get going again. We need to do all those things that we have been putting off. Get out in the garden, cut the grass, paint those window frames. Strangely though many people now need to go and see relatives and friends some are scared and have developed a social phobia. We may still need to take precautions and be Covid safe b it we need to get a move on and re-establish our communities and society.
A normal winter could be our chance to rest and relax looking forward to the hoy of Christmas and the New Year. A time to gather around log fires and get Hyyge. A time enjoy the joy of story telling, socialisation, and developing family relationships and friendships. A time to play games and chat about life and sharing our experiences. The time to enjoy winter foods, puddings custard and cake. For many Covid a nonsense of all that.
It is time to step out of those winter clothes and as the last frosts of winter come to an end get outside, socialise, build vitamin D and have some fun.
Be happy and do what you need to ensure you enjoy your summer so that next winter you can enjoy the winter wonderland.