During the turn of the seasons, our minds and bodies gradually switch to adapt to the new climate and surroundings. With longer, darker days, winter is the season to prep for the most. Our mindframe alone can sometimes feel less healthy and energised – the good news is that we discovered the best secrets and products to beat the winter blues.

Here at Good Zing, our ethos is to democratize access to health and wellbeing information, so that anyone anywhere can understand their options. So, we invited 25 audience members to gather for dinner at Raw Press Chelsea in London to listen and take on board the brilliant advice from 3 of our Experts: Iris Louwerens (Life Coach), Dr Justine Kluk (Consultant Dermatologist) and Dr Michelle Braude (Medical Doctor & Nutritionist).

How to beat the winter blues By Iris Louwerens, Life Coach

Slow down your routines

1. Slow down your routines

In a big city like London, most people live incredibly busy and demanding lives. It’s easy to always be on the go and become stressed. In winter when the days are cold and dark, our energy levels are naturally a bit lower. Our mood might be dampened too. We tend to ignore this and expect to have the same amount of energy as during warmer months.

So we keep on living our lives at the same pace as before. This leaves us feeling even more energy depleted. The antidote though, is simple: take it easy! Winter is a perfect time to slow down, adopt the pace of nature and not feel guilty for it. Mix in more exercises that are at a slower pace than your normal high-energy routines and support the mind – try swapping your regular spin class for a yoga or a pilates class. You don't need to stop doing high-intensity workouts all together, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to tone it down a little.

Our bodies naturally get a bit of a beating during winter, due to the lack of sunshine. It's even more important then, to look after yourself and listen to what your body needs.

2. The best light therapies for winter

If you suffer from insomnia or seasonal affective disorder, they can become more difficult to cope with during the darker months. There are certain sad lights and LED lamps that can really help keep you feeling your best, like the Lumie Arabica Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD Lamp. They work by emitting similar light to that of the sun and slowly wake you at the right time for your body. The gradual wake up sure beats the loud, disturbing noise of your standard mobile alarm, and will help you sleep better in the long run. 

You can also try a wake-up light, like the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock. This is an alarm that uses both light and sound to gently wake you up. Roughly 30 minutes before your alarm is due to go off, a soft light will turn on and it'll increase in intensity, simulating a sunrise, until your alarm goes off. The brightening light is a natural cue for your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones and gradually increase the levels of those that help you get up and go.

Start a gratitude journal

3. Start a gratitude journal

It’s okay to not like winter, but it doesn’t mean it has to take the better of you. You are the master of your fate. You can either moan about the winter blues, or you can accept the season and dress warmly. The most important thing to remember is to watch your internal dialogue – notice when you’re being negative, then decide to choose differently.

Journaling is an incredible way to boost how you feel. Every morning, roughly 1 hour after you’ve woken up, write down 3 things that you’re thankful for. It could be as simple as, "Breakfast was delicious!" or, "It’s not raining today". Doing this first thing in the morning will prep your brain to look for the positive during the day and avoid seasonal affective disorder.

The best skincare for dry flaky winter skin. By Dr Justine Kluk, Consultant Dermatologist

What skincare products to use during winter

1. What skincare products to use during winter

You may have found products that work well for you in the spring and summer, but as weather conditions change, so too should your skincare routine. During the colder months, choose ointments or balms rather than fluids or creams, as they're much more hydrating.

For your face, try a gentle cleanser twice daily, like Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser or La Roche Posay Toleriane Cleanser. Apply generously morning and evening to create a protective layer and reduce water loss from the skin's surface and hydrate your dry skin. You can also look for moisturisers containing ‘humectants’, a group of substances such as urea or lactic acid. These hold moisture in the skin for longer. A great tip to keep skin as supple as possible is to moisturise along with the grain of your hair – don’t rub in circles!

For your body, try a product like Aveeno Body Wash instead of shower gel, and Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Ultra-Soothing Balm as body moisturiser twice daily. If you have dry hair, try washing with Eucerin DermoCapillaire Calming Urea Shampoo two or three times weekly. Leave the foam in contact with the scalp for 5 minutes before rinsing for best results.

For those who are breastfeeding, winter can wreak havoc on your nipples. One of the best products to relieve the pain is Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream. Use it frequently and liberally, and you can also slather it on sore, chapped lips.

Relieve cracked itchy hands and feet

2. Relieve cracked, itchy hands and feet

Cracked and itchy hands and feet are much more common in cold weather. This can be relieved by moisturising regularly and avoiding excess hand-washing or direct contact with detergents, chemicals and greases. Try to wear gloves when washing the dishes or doing household chores. If you need to wear woollen gloves to keep your hands warm outside, slip on a pair of thin cotton gloves first to avoid any irritation.

For your feet, massage Flexitol Heel Balm into the hard skin on your heels for a minute or two every night for a couple of weeks. When the heels are softer, you can reduce application to once or twice a week. 

How important is sunscreen in winter

3. How important is sunscreen in winter?

Sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun, combined with other factors such as snow glare, can still damage your skin. It can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature agiing. A great tip is to apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to your face and hands (if they're exposed) 15-30 minutes before going outside. My favourite is Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 which comes in plain and tinted formulations and is also suitable for skin types prone to acne, rosacea and pigmentation. If you're into winter sports like skiing, use a product which offers added sun protection, like La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ that you can use on your lips too. 

How to avoid winter weight gain. By Dr Michelle Braude, Medical Doctor & Nutritionist

Eat flu-fighting foods

1. Eat flu-fighting foods

Prevention is always best – it’s important to make sure your immune system is working at full capacity when winter sets in. Packing your diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, and berries, nuts, seeds, eggs and whole grains are all great immune boosters. They also provide Vitamins C, E and A, folate, iron and zinc. Living in the UK, we unfortunately don’t receive as much natural Vitamin D from daily sun exposure, therefore we have to incorporate foods that contain more Vitamin D into our diets like mushrooms and oily fish, specifically mackerel and salmon.

Hydrate with certain teas

2. Hydrate with certain teas

Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Water aids weight loss by helping your kidneys flush out excess toxins and chemicals, which may be slowing down your metabolism. If you have difficulty drinking enough plain water, try herbal teas. Specifically, green tea or lemon in hot water are best as they are antioxidants. We become dehydrated during the colder months so to avoid a domino effect over your mental state and body, make sure to ingest as much antioxidant fluids as possible.

Choose the right sweet fix

3. Choose the right sweet fix

When winter comes around it’s tempting to curl up on the couch and binge eat on stodgy carbs and sweet treats. But far from making you feel good, they can leave you tired, lethargic and moody. Instead, get your sweet fix from smoothies, which raise your serotonin levels naturally. 

Remember, it’s ok to slow down to avoid the winter blues – your body might need it to function at a healthier pace after all.

READ NEXT: Tried and tested remedies and products to help you cope with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

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How to beat the winter blues

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