When it’s cold outside, it’s tempting to just go into hibernation – but there’s no need to shut down when there are so many ways to maximise your days in autumn and winter.

It’s time to make the most of the daylight hours, embrace the cool, and improve our wellbeing – now is not the time to retreat under the duvet.

Start the day right

First – and most importantly – you have to overcome the challenge of getting out of bed. It can take a fair amount of will-power, but know it will be worth it. In these wintry months, a long lie-in can eat up the best part of the day. 

We’re all solar-powered to some degree – even asleep, our eyes respond to sunlight as a wake-up call. Instead of a noisy alarm forcing you out of bed, you can invest in a ‘sunrise lamp alarm clock’ for a more gentle start to the day.

Set a specific time to have breakfast too, and your body’s internal clock will soon become accustomed to your routine as well. Once your morning becomes ritualistic, your brain will kick into action when it’s time to get up and about. 

Beating the seasonal blues

More people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder than are ever diagnosed. It can be a mild feeling of lethargy and listlessness, or full-on despair at having to face the day. 

Aside from medication, which should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor, there are ways to combat this anxiety and unhappiness. Light therapy is a popular option (and again, a sunrise alarm clock lamp can work wonders), which is why it is crucial that you try to get as much natural sunlight as possible. Give yourself reasons to get out of the house, and make sure you take any opportunity for permitted outdoor exercise while any lockdown guidelines are in force.

The NHS also recommends exercise as the most effective treatment, as well as a healthy diet. 

Eat right

It can be difficult to stick to a healthy diet as the range of seasonal fruit and vegetables becomes more limited at this time of year. But it is highly recommended that you get the right vitamins and nutrients to keep you feeling good and to fight off the winter bugs. 

Getting your five-a-day of fruit and veg is just as important in the winter – if not more so – and there are plenty of recipes for smoothies using the widely available fruits, such as grapefruit, pears and pomegranates. Spend some of the darker hours cooking up a stew that incorporates hearty seasonal produce such as sweet potatoes, turnips, and leeks.  

Make the most of the day (and the night)

Wherever you live in the UK, for most of December it is dark before 4pm. It can be hard to fit in your regular routine before the sun sets, and for a lot of us the nights can feel extremely long. 

And like many of us too, especially if you are at home a lot more, you might find yourself spending an increasing amount of time checking social media. Nobody is saying you should stop, but you can try to make a conscious decision to wait until the evening, as it’s so easy to lose an hour or two staring at your phone or tablet. Arrange any video calls with family and friends for early evening when it’s still a sociable hour but it’s dark outside. 

If you like to spend a lot of time exercising, but you feel that it’s taking up the best part of the day, again, plan to do any indoor activities after the sun goes down. Yoga and pilates sessions can be fantastic ways to relax and help stay in a positive frame of mind – and it’s easy to try online classes from home during the evening.

Venture outside

When the rain is battering your windows and the wind is rumbling down the chimney, you could be forgiven for hanging your coat back up and settling down on the sofa. But with the right waterproof gear and some warm clothing, a walk in wet weather can be highly refreshing. If anything, it’ll certainly wake you up.

It is always good to make time for a daily walk or a jog – but you don’t need to be limited to the daylight hours either. As long as you have a light or a torch, and you make yourself visible too, just about any activity you do during the day can be done in the dark too. 

Keep warm and keep well

If you haven’t already, you’ll probably be planning to turn the heating on very soon. Make sure your boiler is in good working order and check the pressure – there are few things more frustrating than waiting on a boiler repair in the middle of winter. 

Get your fleeces and warm blankets out, thick socks and slippers, hot water bottles and electric blankets – after all, comfort, warmth and cosiness are as important as anything in maintaining your winter wellbeing.

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