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How to avoid the winter blues

Your challenge: Head outside for a least 20 minutes every day

The approaching winter heralds shortened daylight hours and colder weather, which may discourage many of us from leaving the cosy warmth of the house. But it’s important to get outside every day.

Benefits include:

  1. Improved mood – Exposing your eyes to natural light stimulates the production of serotonin, our body’s natural antidepressant
  2. Less fatigue – Exposing your eyes to natural light also suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy
  3. Better sleep – Adequate exposure to sunlight during the day will help regulate the hormones that help you fall asleep at night
  4. More vitamin D – Exposing your skin to sunlight, supports our body to make vitamin D which is not only important for keeping your bones healthy but is also essential for a healthy immune system over those winter months.
  5. Moving more – Being outside encourages you to be more active and every little bit counts
  6. Better head space – There is growing evidence of a connection between time spent in nature/outside and reduced stress, anxiety and depression
  7. Reduced likelihood of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – SAD is a form of depression that’s related to the change of season from summer to winter due to reduced exposure to natural light. Getting outside more can help.
  8. Fresh air – Being in a poorly ventilated space can increase your risk of catching or transmitted bugs. Plus, it feels good to be out in the fresh air
  9. Being mindful – Being outside, away from your devices is an opportunity to be mindful and reflect on the good things in your life.

Even as little as 20 minutes of physical activity outside can improve your energy levels.

Note: Don’t forget to be sunsmart.

Make it happen

Here are some ideas of how you can achieve your goal:

  • Make a daily walk part of your routine – choose a time and stick to it
  • Sit outside to have your morning tea or coffee
  • Walk your dog or, if you don’t have one, is there someone else’s you can offer to walk?
  • Connect with your community. Walk a homemade tasty dish to an elderly neighbour, or a couple with a young baby
  • Put your gumboots on and jump puddles if you have kids or grandkids
  • It may be that you work outside, so you’re already winning. We encourage you to use these 20 minutes to actively take more notice of your surroundings. It’s easy for us to take them for granted. You can also use the time to bring your family outside with you, reaping the benefits listed above.
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Wrap up and walk along your local beach – bring a hot drink with you
  • Feeling tired during the day? Walk around your office block for five minutes, rather than just getting a coffee inside
  • Look to do exercise outside over winter – run, walk or join outdoor team sports
  • User sunny days to get out and mow the lawn or weed the garden
  • Park further away from your destination so you gain extra time in the sun as you walk the rest of the way.