5 ways mindfulness can ward off the winter blues

20 April 2017 by
First published: 8 February 2017

In this our sixth week of guided meditation with Ashley Hunt, we look at 5 ways mindfulness can ward off the winter blues.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice a mood shift that comes with the arrival of winter. Even if you can brave the plunging temperatures, the lack of sunshine and short days will be sure to get you down. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and causes many people to experience low mood and symptoms of depression over the winter months.

I’ve found mindfulness extremely helpful for getting through the dark and cold months, which as an Aussie was a huge adjustment when moving to London!

This is how mindfulness can help you ward off the winter blues.

Mindfulness boosts your mood

A bad mood is often a frame of mind that can be altered (although not always easily). When the weather gets you down, your meditation practice can give you perspective and keep you grateful despite the cold. Recent studies have shown that certain meditative breathing exercises can be just as effective as medication in treating depression.

Mindfulness keeps you healthy

Winter is the time when you’re more likely to pick up a bug or feel under the weather. Mindfulness causes your immune system to function more efficiently, helping you fight off the flu or other illnesses. And, while you may already know that meditation has a whole host of health benefits, including reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure, did you also know that meditation can help treat and prevent other conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Mindfulness gives you perspective

Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from your current situation and view things objectively, without making an emotional judgment about the situation. When things seem dim and the weather is getting you down, mindfulness provides a rational voice to remind you that seasons are temporary and gives you a way to stop your emotions from spiralling out of control. Mindfulness will also keeps you grateful, no matter how dark or cold it is around you.

Mindfulness relieves stress

When the weather is cold and your mood is low, you tend to be less able to handle the pressures that life throws at you, from work pressure, to relationships and family stress. By using simple mindfulness practices such as deep belly breathing, you will be able to keep stress at bay. Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and reduces the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what will send you into ‘fight or flight’ mode. The balance between the two regulates how the body deals with stress.

Mindfulness helps you take care of yourself

Mindfulness is a necessary part of any self-care routine. When we meditate we are able to tap into our needs and understand the importance of looking after ourselves. When you are feeling down, a key part in getting through it is listening to your body and then knowing what it needs.