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Winter Health and Wellbeing at Home

I’m really interested to see how we’re all feeling towards winter this year, particularly given that in the Southern Hemisphere, we have spent the best part of Autumn in doors courtesy of our attempt to the flatten the curve and reduce the impact of Covid-19. In Australia, we love the outdoors – it is a much celebrated part of our culture and our day to day life. So as the recent restrictions start to relax, the idea of winter may not be as appealing as it can be. Thoughts of cozying up by the fire place and snuggling up on the couch, whilst once endearing now might be a little same same. The good news is there are some simple and affordable things you can do to maximise your health and wellbeing at home this winter

The 2006 study on The impact of light and colour on psychological mood: a cross-cultural study of indoor work environments by Richard Küller et al, founded “mood was at its lowest when the lighting was experienced as much too dark. The mood then improved and reached its highest level when the lighting was experienced as just right.” Our winter days, determined by their very lack of daylight hours and therefore natural light, ultimately affect our mood. According to Marialena Nikolopoulou, most lighting design is focused on the sufficiencies regarding visual performance. That is the ability to minimise glare, appropriate colour rendering and energy conservation. It fails to consider our non-visual systems responses to light – our circadian rhythms. With reduced daylight hours in winter we are forced to spend more time in the dark and this can impede our ability to sleep during the night. So now we’re grumpy thanks to poor lighting and tired due to our inability to sleep!

And we’re still stuck inside!! When we do manage to get outside our mood is elevated and stress levels lower. We also get to soak in the natural goodness of Vitamin D and Serotonin. In winter, we find ourselves in a situation where it is often cold, wet and raining with less hours of sunlight and we’re not sleeping as well as we could be.

We also tend to associate happy memories with outdoor activities, eg the nostalgic feeling of going on picnics or family holidays. So bright and sunny days remind of us good times and adversely wet, cold days we attribute to not so good times. 

Luckily there are some simple, affordable and effective things we can do around our homes and offices to help make us feel better and support our health and wellbeing at home this winter.

Colour

There is definitely truth in the notion of seasonal colours. This reminds me so much of that scene in Bridget Jones when Bridget’s mum want her to ‘have her colours done.

Well that’s Mrs Jones, she knew a thing or too that’s for sure

There is a natural tendency for us to turn to warmer colours during the colour months and it makes sense, right. We want to feel cozy and warm when it’s grey and miserable outside. Now this is definitely not me saying paint your house in delightful shades of nutmeg and cinnamon or rush out and by all the terracotta throw cushions – heaven knows there are enough of them available at the shops right now – BUT if you are wanting to add some colour to your home in winter then warm tones like orange, marsala, terracotta, berry red and forrest green are definitely seasonal and will help create a feeling of coziness in your space. These colours are derived from nature and reflect the landscape around us. They’re present in our produce and gardens and this is why we are drawn to them. Just be mindful that you’re investing in quality pieces that will last years so as to avoid unnecessarily contributing to landfill next season. 

Light

You don’t have to sit in the dark. Draw open the blinds and curtains and let as much natural light as you possibly can in. Don’t be afraid to turn on the lights if it makes completing tasks easier just don’t feel you have to turn on every single light as too much artificial light can have a negative affect on your mood too. It might mean task lighting for work and study need to go on throughout the day and general lighting an hour or two earlier than normal. Where possible, warm light will add to creating an atmosphere of coziness.

Air Quality

Try to get some fresh air. When we’re spending so much of our time indoors the outdoors becomes increasingly important. If getting outside isn’t possible try to open a window or door to get some fresh air throughout your home or office. Even if it’s just for five minutes a few times throughout the day it will impact how you feel. One of the things we love about being outdoors is our proximity to nature. When we can’t go outside bring the outdoors in with indoor plants. Not only will indoor plants boost your mood, having something to care for increases our sense of purpose and therefore wellbeing. A medium sized indoor pot plant will purify your air as effectively and many air purifiers on the market. Plus they look incredible. Go on, hug a tree or three. 

Sleep

It’s so important to get good quality sleep all year round but especially true in winter when cold and flu viruses are more easily attainable. Make sure the bedroom is warm. This might mean investing in some quality sheets or bedding or setting up a safe heat source in your room. 

When you decide it’s time to go to bed, try and avoid any digital screen for at least an hour beforehand. This helps reduce your exposure to blue light and assist with your body’s natural production of melatonin. You may like to try blue light filter screens or glasses but swathing off altogether is the best way to wind done. Now we’re trying to keep our daytime as light as possible we also want the opposite for bedtime. Light is activity rest is dark. 

You can read more about creating a sanctuary for sleep here.

These are just some of the ways we can set up your home and office to ensure you avoid those winter blues and instead make the most of what can be a beautiful time of the year to slow down, cozy up with loved ones and rest. There is a reason bears hibernate in the winter! 

 

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