UK winters are awful. Once past the distraction of Christmas and New Year we face at least two months of rubbish: grey skies, damp air, mud and drizzle. Even when we get snow it soon turns to sludge and slime. If you can, the best thing to do is to go somewhere warm for the length of January and February. And perhaps the first three weeks of March, just to be on the safe side.
If, however, your income doesn’t allow you a twelve week holiday, follow these tips to help ward off the winter blues.
Our Northern neighbours have to put up with winter conditions almost all year round, yet they’re happier than us. (In the World Happiness Report 2017, all the Scandinavian countries were in the top ten. The UK was number nineteen.)
There are many reasons cited for Scandinavian happiness, but it does seem as though these countries share a more positive outlook – take Hygge, a Danish word which loosely means finding contentment in simple things.
Makes sense, so find some Hygge: don your cosiest knitwear, light some candles, lay a fire, make a hot chocolate and settle down in front of a nice Scandi drama. The bridge and The Killing are especially good.
Adding splashes of colour to your home will remind you that spring and summer are just round the corner. Avoid purples, greys and blues which will absorb the winter light. Opt for floral colours– pinks, oranges and yellows. There’s no need to overdo it, a few colourful accessories, cushions and the like, should help lift your room, and maybe your mood.
Sunny days boost our Vitamin D levels, and help our brains produce depression busting serotonin: we crave sun because we need sun. You can trick your brain into thinking the sun’s around: turn lamps on – all of them, or buy special SAD lamps which emit intense light behind a special diffuser. For a bright start to the day invest in a dawn simulator light– essentially an alarm clock which has you waking up to a room full of sunshine.
Dig out all of your favourite spring and summer pictures. Print them large as canvases or acrylic prints and cover an empty wall, or print them small and stick them on the fridge. Try and go for British summer snaps though - pictures of that perfect holiday in Tuscany several years back may not make you feel any better!
Last of all, if you really can’t find Hygge and lamps fail to lighten your mood, perhaps it’s best just to make the most of Bleak Britain. Take advantage of low season hotel rates and explore the parts of Britain that really work in the gloom: the eerie shingle beaches of Kent’s Dungeness. The silent vast expanse of Kielder Forest or the windswept Norfolk coast are all good places to see blighty at its bleakest best.