MoneyMagpie

Dec 02

Survive the winter blues

With Christmas and New Year over and everyone back to work it’s not surprising that so many people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Well, we don’t think that winter should be a battle, so we’ve come up with some great ways to enjoy the season and not just get through it!

Keeping cosy

winter bluesWinter is well and truly here and keeping warm is really important if you’re aiming to stay your cheery self. By keeping your toes toasty you will keep yourself happier. A stable body temperature helps to keep you healthy and happy on the gloomiest of days.

First, insulate your home. This will keep out drafts and save you money on your energy bill. Believe it or not, it can also be enjoyable too. If you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine then why not give making your own draft excluders a go? Giving your curtains a thermal lining can also save you a bundle, and simply sticking some kitchen foil (shiny side facing outwards) behind your radiators reflects the heat in your rooms.

See some other energy-saving, carbon-reducing ideas here too.

You may be entitled to an energy savings grant if you receive any benefits like income support or disability allowance. This is a grant of up to £3,500 to be spent on things like loft insulation, draught-proofing and cavity wall insulation. They’ll usually send someone round within 21 days of your application being approved. It will all be installed in a few hours so you can start saving straight away. Find out more and apply online at Affordable Warmth.winter blues

Insulating yourself is also a great idea – and we’re not talking about an extra helping of pudding (although sticky toffee pudding?… I think so!). Dig out your thermal undies and your Ugg boots. Try out some new styles with clothes you haven’t seen for a few winters. Fashions are always coming and going and chances are there’s something in the back of your wardrobe that’s fit for today’s catwalks.

The best idea is to go for lots of thin layers rather than one thick one as this provides better insulation. If you’re totally disgusted with last year’s hat, scarf and gloves however, there are plenty of high-street stores with affordable prices. Miss Selfridge provides a good range of cheap yet stylish accessories and New Look is great for bargain-priced coats.

Exercise

winter bluesFor most people, the word ‘exercise’ sends shivers down the spine. This doesn’t have to be the case though if you think outside the square about getting your blood pumping. Even eight minutes of exercise, three to four times a week, can boost your happiness levels and ward off feelings of anger, tension and sadness. A 30-minute workout, three times a week, has been proven to be just as effective as anti-depressants. Here are five fun ways to get you going.

  • Challenge your friends/children to a Twister championship. You’ll have to bend all kinds of ways, and this game can be hilarious once it gets going. Find a brand-new game for just £14.49 on Amazon.
  • Rummage around for some old albums and have a little dance and a sing to your favourite ‘old skool’ tunes. Even if you’re not a particularly great dancer, you’ll probably give yourself a giggle. Once you’ve perfected your act, why not host a karaoke night? You can pick up a karaoke machine from Amazon for less than £50 and show off your moves. Or check out dance classes in your local area, even ballroom dancing can get the heart racing!
  • winter bluesReplace your computer chair with one of those giant exercise balls. They’re surprisingly comfy to sit on, they’ll do wonders for your back and the extra movement you’ll be doing will make you exercise without realising it. You can get your hands on one for less than £30 (including delivery) from Yoga-Mad.
  • Get yourself a dance mat for the PlayStation or Wii. This is basically a mat that you plug into the games console which knows if you take a step forward, back, left or right. Different songs on the games have set dance moves and you’ve got to dance to these steps in time. Get them for less than £40 from Amazon.
  • Re-decorate your house. This doesn’t necessarily mean stripping wallpaper or buying new furniture. Simply moving your existing furniture around can completely change the look of your home. Grab yourself a feng shui book and get hauling.

 

Have some ‘me’ time

According to research by Twinings:

• Women are juggling an average of 6.2 roles in their lives, compared with an average of 4.7 roles for menwinter blues
• 97% of women  feel stressed and one in 10 women feel ‘so stressed out they can’t remember what it feels like to be calm or content’
• Of women who indulge in me time at least once a day, 64% are confident and 78% are happy
• A quarter of women (24%) believe they are nicer people and 28% say they perform better if they have stopped for 10 minutes to reconnect with themselves.

After a long day settle down with a refreshing cup of tea from Twinings, they cater to all tastes from herbal teas to a gorgeous cup of Earl Grey. Take a look at their fab range of special fruit teas from strawberry and mango to blackberry and nettle, or if you prefer a more traditional black tea then indulge in their extensive collection of chai, assam, ceylon and more.

If you’re at your desk then ‘Take 10’ with their fab relax, recharge and refresh page, offering loads of great advice on everything from pilates to a skiing experience straight from your desk.

 

Host a movie night

MoneyMagpie_TV-Movie-Night-PopcornThere are probably a million films you’d love to watch but you don’t really fancy splashing out on expensive DVDs. Maybe you’d like to catch up on all the old classics without the risk of renting them out and forgetting to return them.

At LOVEFiLM you can register online, choose which films you want to rent from every DVD available in the UK and get them through the post. You can keep the DVDs for as long as you like; rental prices start from £4.99 a month and there’s a 30-day free trial (which really is free).

So grab your friends, get them to bring some food round, make some popcorn and snuggle down to your millionth viewing of Some Like it Hot.

 

Start a new hobby

winter bluesEver thought about flamenco or salsa dancing? Thought not. It’s a great way to keep fit and it’ll give you something to do in the evenings. Contact your local leisure centre to see what dance classes they offer. If you’d feel too embarrassed doing it in front of people then you could get a DVD course and learn in your living room. Amazon has a wide range of instructional dance DVDs and prices start from a couple of quid.

While you’ve got some time on your hands, why not set yourself the challenge of learning a new language. If you’re feeling brave, give Mandarin Chinese a shot. Start learning all the basics of more than seven languages for free on the BBC languages website.

winter bluesNow is the ideal time of year to get your skates on. There are ice centres all over the place with public ice sessions. It’s a brilliant way to keep the kids entertained for a few hours, or bring your partner along and get a bit cosy as you skate round the rink. To find your closest ice centre, visit Iceskating.org.uk which lists a bunch of rinks and clubs in different regions.

If you can get your hands on a sewing machine, then why not start making things for your family and friends? You could even make some cash if you’re good enough by selling them online! For second hand sewing machines there are loads of great markets in and around London which sell old Singer machines for under £40. If you’re not based in London then try eBay for a good bargain.

 

Themed dinner parties

Why not try your hand at entertaining guests by hosting a themed dinner party night? This could be any theme that you like, and the preparations could be a whole lot of fun. Here are a few examples of themes, foods and activities you could use:

Traditional English

winter blues

Meal ideas: Fish ‘n’ chips are the obvious choice. You could also have toad in the hole, Lancashire hotpot, rice pudding, bread and butter pudding, traditional ale or sherry.

Entertainment: Traditional English games like croquet. You can pick up a mini set for your living room from Amazon. Or maybe even a good old game of Monopoly – grab a gorgeous wooden set for under £30.

 

Mexican Fiesta

winter blues

 

Meal ideas: Guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, burritos, chilli con carne, enchiladas and of course, a good old bottle of tequila to wash it all down.

Entertainment: Prepare a small bowl of dried chillies for each guest – the first one to eat them all wins. Make sure you have a jug of milk to hand though! Another nice idea is to get yourself a piñata. You can buy a reasonably-priced one from Partyrama.co.uk.

 

winter bluesMurder mystery

Meal ideas: It’s best to plan a meal that can be prepared in advance so you don’t miss out on the action. Make sure it’s at least three courses to ensure you’ve got time to do all the detecting.

Entertainment: The easiest way to do it is to grab yourself a murder mystery game from Amazon, starting from less than a fiver.

 

Happy eating

winter bluesDon’t panic! We’re not telling you to live on a salad diet! Happy eating means eating foods which are known to lift your mood.

Some foods contain higher levels of serotonin ‘the happy hormone’, including whole-grain bread, fish, chicken, turkey, bananas, avocados, cereals, nuts and – luckily – chocolate!

In fact, chocolate has one of the highest levels of serotonin, but it will only give you a short boost (one or two hours). The best way to maintain your happy hormone levels is to eat a balanced diet and make sure you get enough carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes etc), as these provide a steady release of energy.winter blues

 

Not only are all these things good for you, cooking can be an enjoyable way to pass the time. Not only does making your own bread require a little exercise for the kneading, but making puddings is something you can get the children involved in. Walk to the market to buy the ingredients if you can – it’s cheaper and you get exercise at the same time. Or, if you haven’t got the time – or a local market – you could shop online and save time. Tesco provides a handy online shopping service at reasonable prices.

 

Going out

winter bluesA night out on the town can sometimes be really expensive. If you’re looking to go out to a posh restaurant or a trendy wine bar,
you’ve got to expect to pay out. And if you’re planning on splashing some cash it’s worth going somewhere recommended so that you at least get value for money.

You can also book restaurant tables online with OpenTable – and get a free dinner if you book through the site five times.

If you’re feeling adventurous then why not try your hand at camping? Amazon sells tents for under £20.winter blues

If you’d rather not brave the cold, get hold of an electric heater, some marshmallows and a sounds of nature CD and set up camp in your living room. Tell ghost stories to your kids or snuggle up with your partner to keep warm. 

Let us know any of your handy hints on how to survive the winter blues by commenting below!

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