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How to beat the post-summer blues
September 2nd 2015
Wet weather brought you back down to earth with a bump? We’ve got the expert advice to help you beat those post-summer blues
With summer coming to an end, we’ve come back down to earth (quite literally) with a pretty big bump. Farewell sun, sea and sandles - we’re back to early starts, stuffy commutes and all the wet and windy delights British weather has to throw at us. Not ones to stay down in the dumps for long, we’ve consulted the experts for their advice on how we can all beat those dreaded post-summer blues.
We all know the feeling when it’s wet outside - you’re hanging out in your favourite onesie, there’s a box-set marathon on TV and the last thing on your mind is working out. However, despite our tendency to wrap up and hunker down when we’re blue, as personal trainer and That Girl co-founder Christina Howells explains, exercise can often be the best tool we have to beat low mood.
“It’s a well known fact that exercise can make you feel better,” Christina explains. “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that act as nature’s mood enhancers. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling of euphoria.
“As well as the physical effects, exercise also has many psychological benefits. Working out gives you space to take your mind off of your concerns and have time to yourself. Feeling the changes that are going on in your body and mind helps give you a sense of achievement, and being involved in an exercise class or routine can provide a really positive sense of community and being part of something for people with low mood.”
With that in mind, here are Christina’s six top tips to spin, stretch and lunge your way out of the post-summer blues:
As time is often a limitation, be realistic about what you can achieve - research suggests that just 20 minutes of exercise a day is enough to benefit mood.
Form a daily exercise routine - having habit in exercise conditions your brain and body to expect the regular release of endorphins which fuels feelings of happiness.
Try aerobic exercise or strength training - both are well known to boost endorphins.
Stick to what you enjoy - going for a walk, dancing or home yoga are all great blues-busting exercises if the gym isn’t for you.
Join a club - whether it’s a regular class or online support, it’s always nice to feel like you belong.
Bring your workout indoors - when it’s cold outside, try online HIIT, barre or yoga workouts, or of course ThatGirl!
Diet and nutrition
As well as exercise and endorphins, things like diet can also help us beat low mood when got right, explains nutritional therapist and yoga expert Libby Limon. If you’re suffering from a serious bout of the post-summer blues, getting the right nutrients can really help you boost your mood.
L-Tryptophan: This is an amino acid precursor for both serotonin and melatonin - the messengers responsible for positive mood and quality sleep. L-Tryptophan can be found in buffalo mozzarella, pumpkin seeds, tofu, sunflower seeds, oats and poultry.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a key mineral for many processes in the body and deficiencies can lead to chronic stress, fatigue and hormone inbalances. White almond butter, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, buckwheat, brazil nuts, pecans, rye and peanuts are all good sources.
Omega 3s: These are essential fatty acids for mood health and can be found in oily fish, chia seeds, flax seeds and omega oils. A great omega oil to use daily as a dressing is Vitona Oil of Life, £25.
B Vitamins: B vitamins are essential for energy production and can be found in wholegrains and green leafy vegetables.
Supplements are also a great way of boosting your mood, Libby explains, and the best advice is to visit a qualified nutritionist who can assess your needs and create the most effective plan for you.
“As the summer sun fades, so do our levels of vitamin D. A D3 supplement with 1000 i.u. like BioMulsion D, £9.60, is a great way to replace some of this lost goodness. Magnesium and B vitamin supplements are also great for energy production and a short course of 5-HTP (a form of L-Tryptophan) can help boost mood and sleep if you are feeling really down post-summer.”
Yoga and meditation
“As light, energy and heat shift around us with the seasons, yoga focuses on keeping the mind and body balanced” Libby explains.
“Breath exercises such as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing where the exhale is longer than the inhale) help detoxify and calm the body as well as balancing energy, and digestion also becomes a focus to ensure the body is clear and detoxified post-summer.”
If the post-summer blues have left you feeling like trying something new, Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe explains the positive impact exercises such as mindfulness meditation can have on all areas of your life: “As well as enhancing productivity at work, improving your physical performance in sports and helping you sleep,” Andy explains, “meditation is also very effective at reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.
“Research has shown how the brain can change in response to training and experience such as meditation, a process which is known as neuroplasticity. Researchers have found that meditation training boosts the left frontal activity in the brain, which is associated with positive mood, and decreases activity in the amygdala - the system related to stress and anxiety.
“In essense, meditation provides a framework in which we are able to step back from habitual thinking and emotions, allowing us to witness them with clarity and perspective. When we learn to do this, the mind and body begin to calm down, allowing us to experience a greater sense of quiet and ease in everyday life. The Headspace Take10 programme is a great place to start. It only takes ten minutes a day and can be done anywhere from on-the-go to home or work.”
We can’t bring back the sunshine or mojitos in the Maldives, but we can check ourselves in for some serious body-loving TLC with a little help from the experts. So, why not ditch the onesie, don the lycra and eat, leap and stretch your way out of the post-summer blues.