The winter blues have arrived - and it’s important that you find some coping mechanisms to beat them.
That doesn’t just mean going to the gym. Simple changes to your lifestyle, skin regime or diet can boost your mood through the darker, colder months.
Lifestyle and beauty blogger Michaell Johnson, who boasts a 75,000-strong following on Instagram, is on hand to help.
What started as a casual food blog became a full-time passion for 30-year-old Michaell when she launched The Vanilla Plum, initially to raise awareness and knowledge about nutrition, but now has branched into fashion, beauty, decor and travel.
If you’re looking for some “New Year, New Me” motivation - which doesn’t include running or squats - here are her top 10 suggestions for a healthy 2020.
Book a vacation. Go somewhere warm. Winter can contribute to seasonal depression, as levels of mood-swinging hormones serotonin and melatonin fluctuate, which can make you feel miserable. That coupled with longer nights, and arriving and leaving work in the dark can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. There’s no better excuse than to go soak up some vitamin D in the sun.
Don’t jump on the quick-fix diet bandwagon. If you’re thinking a diet will be a quick way of losing weight, you’re wrong! That’s usually only a short-term fix. You need a balanced diet for your body and training to thrive. Eat whole foods and stay away from the packets, so think vegetables, quality meat, whole grains, wild fish, seafood, cage-free eggs, fruits, nuts, seeds and minimal processing. Switch from processed sugars to fruits to ensure your body still gets its sugar cravings, but it doesn’t impact your waistline. Learn to love beans, as they are full of fibre, which will keep you full for hours.
Enjoy your training. Do you think being healthy and increasing your fitness levels is hard, miserable and painful? That's the quickest way to put anyone off. Find enjoyment in your exercises and remind yourself how you will feel afterwards. Endorphins will give you a euphoric feeling. Mix it up, too! Don’t be tempted into doing the same gym routine everyday for three weeks. Choose to exercise 3 to 4 times a week, and gradually build it up. So, walk one day, run the next, spin, take a class, do yoga. The best athletes in the world train by diversifying their workouts.
Drink more water. Your body needs water to function, and it fills you up. Instead of reaching for snacks when you feel peckish, have a glass of water instead. Sometimes, your body mistakes hunger for dehydration. Start a morning by drinking lemon water to give your body what it needs after fasting during sleep. Just don’t brush your teeth directly afterwards! Acid can hurt your teeth.
Drink less alcohol. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a couple of glasses of wine can set you back 400 calories, and will require a 40 minutes of exercise to burn off. Cutting your alcohol intake is one of the quickest ways to lose those pesky pounds.
Look after your skin. Water helps, but dry, red scaly patches of eczema and psoriasis commonly flare up in winter. It’s important to know when to switch to heavier moisturizers to combat the colder, drier air. How much moisturizer is too much? A good rule of thumb is to see how fast it soaks into your skin and needs a reapplication. La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast is great for dry skin for both face and body. You should also exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week - Arcona’s Berry Gel Gommage and Chantecaille’s Hibiscus Smoothing Mask are excellent additions to your skincare regime.
Personal barriers and goals. To stay on track of your goals, write down the obstacles that can possibly get in your way, such as work, stress, tiredness, family, celebrations, lack of motivation and bad weather. That way, you can have a plan in place for when these situations arise. Practice positive thinking. Also, set short-term and long-term goals so that it’s not overwhelming to focus on big goals like running a marathon or losing 40 pounds. Focus on losing your first five pounds, then adjust your goals.
Think about home decor. We spend 25 years of our lives in our beds, so you want to make sure you’re getting quality sleep. Sleep on breathable fabrics, like silk, linen, and wool, so that hot and cold sleepers alike get what they need. It’s also important to pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. If you keep waking up in a cold sweat, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your linens, if you wake up with back pain or shoulder pain, perhaps you need to revisit how you sleep at night. Also, ditch the cellphone in bed! It can disrupt your sleep pattern, and the blue light messes with your circadian rhythm. Also, try out these $13 satin pillowcases, which can help prevent split ends and wrinkles.
You ARE allowed a cheat day. Forgive yourself and simply move on. There's nothing you can do to take back that pizza, beer, brownie, ice cream binge, so don’t beat yourself up. Move on, learn from it and get back to basics the next day. If you picture that brownie or ice cream you want once a week, that will be your reward for staying on track. Anticipating treats makes you feel less deprived and happier, and you can make it healthier by making your own pizza or ice cream at home. You can add blended spinach to mint chocolate ice cream for a unique twist.
Change up your look. This could meaning anything: change your hair colour, learn a new way to style it, get a new outfit, shoes, new glasses, or even contacts. In 2020, Michaell got hair extensions at Hairdreams. It was also a health-conscious change, since most of the heat from styling is now distributed on the extensions, rather than on natural hair.