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10 tips to beat the winter blues

freehomecheck_jun2016_setb_160x600I love winter. Mostly because I loathe the excessive heat of summer. At least in winter you can turn on the heater, pull on your favourite snuggly woollies and cuddle up in front of the heater. Especially when it’s pouring with rain outside.

Above image courtesy of Adairs

Even so, those dreary, grey overcast (non-rainy) days really get me down and, let’s face it, as the end of the season approaches we’re inclined to get a touch of the winter blues as the blankets, hot cocoa and books start to lose their appeal.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do around the house to raise the cheer factor and recapture our love of the chilly season as we head into the second half of winter.

 

1. Brighten up

There’s few things more likely to inspire melancholy than a dark room. The simple act of throwing open the curtains and pulling up the blinds will allow the winter sun to warm your house and the atmosphere. Sunshine also helps to keep dust mites at bay. Even if it’s a grey day, natural light and the view from outside can lift the mood immeasurably. And if it happens to be raining, you’ll be guaranteed to feel fabulous if you curl up on the couch and watch Mother Nature water the garden for you.

 

2. Lighten up

Even if the sun isn’t shining, some nice bright lights will lift your mood immediately. Now is a good time to invest in some energy-saving LED lamps that will save you money as they brighten the house. Don’t just grab something off the supermarket shelf either. Go to a lighting store where the staff will be able to advise you about the best lamps for your needs. For example, you’ll need to decide whether to go with “warm white” or “cool white” lamps. “Warm white” has a yellowish tinge but “cool white” has a bluish tinge and each creates a distinct mood as well as being suited to different needs. A “cool white” lamp will give you the brightness and clarity for task lighting, while a “warm white” is good for mood lighting.

 

3.   Open up

If it’s a sunny winter day, then throw open the windows and doors to let some fresh air into the house. Not only will it keep mould and mildew at bay, it’ll make the house smell fresh and get some invigorating clean air into your lungs.

 

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Image courtesy of EcoSmart Fire

 

4.   Heat up

There’s nothing like the sight of flames in a fireplace to create a sense of comfort and cheer. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to add this to you indoor or outdoor living spaces. One example of the latest fabulous technology is EcoSmart Fires, which are fuelled by environmentally-friendly bioethanol. They have standalone outdoor fires and fire pit styles Several are made from a lightweight concrete composite, which is UV resistant, colourfast and resistant to water penetration. There’s even one that’s a sleek and chic combination of stainless steel and glass. Indoors there are numerous styles and models to choose from that can be built-in or freestanding. And because they’re clean-burning bioethanol fueled, you don’t need to have a flue installed. If you buy a freestanding model, all you have to do is take it home, plug it in and enjoy the ambience.

 

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Image courtesy of EcoSmart Fire

 

5.   Sun up

Ah those dark winter mornings when it’s so hard to get out of bed. It’s also known to cause a condition known as “winter depression”. Trick your body into thinking the dawn has come with a dawn simulator. Also known as a wake-up light, psychiatric studies in the US have shown they can help to alleviate “seasonal affective disorder” – i.e. winter depression. I did a quick online search and found that you can buy these devices from a Perth company called Wake Up Bright. The Lumi Bodyclock is an alarm clock that wakes you with a gradual brightening light. This creates a natural sunrise effect that apparently causes your body to reduce the number of sleep hormones it produces (including melatonin) and start pumping out more of those that help you get going for the day (such as cortisol). Or you could try the good old fashioned method that I employ of leaning out of bed, opening the blinds, then huddling back under the covers for a snooze while the daylight creeps into the room.

 

6.   Tune up

Crank up the radio or CD player and get some nice cheery tunes pumping through the house. Music truly can lift your mood in both the long and short term. If you haven’t got a music maker, now could be the time to indulge in some retail therapy and buy a new noise machine!

 

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Image courtesy of Adairs

 

7.   Spend up

Speaking of retail therapy, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to bring some “sunshine” into the house in the form of new soft furnishings. A faux fur throw or some bright cushions will add a splash of colour to the living room that will draw the eye and lift the spirits. Ditto for the bedroom where a new doona cover, throw or cushions will bring a smile to your face every time you enter the room. (Making the bed won’t even seem such a chore!)

 

8.   Pump up

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.” Ah, my favourite quote from Legally Blonde. And Elle Woods (aka Reese Witherspoon) had it absolutely right. So what if it’s too cold or wet to leave the house! Dance up a storm to that new stereo we just talked about, set up a circuit of fun exercises – one in every room of the house. Go to each room to tidy up or dust, then do the exercise you’ve allocated for that room, and move on. The house will be tidy, you’ll be fit and those endorphins will be pumping. Of course, if you have a spare room, a formal dining room you never use, or space in the garage or carport, set up a little “home gym” there. You don’t need expensive equipment. In fact, you can make do with objects you have around the house. (Watch out for our upcoming article in HomeHub on how to make a home gym without spending a fortune.)

 

9.   Tidy up

There are several reasons why tidying up inside is a great way to beat the winter blues. First, moving around lifting, moving, dusting and folding warms you up, and feeling cold can be a precursor to feeling down in the dumps. Secondly, the heat of summer is no time for a big clean-up, when the exercise will just make you feel even hotter and more irritable.

Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, our surroundings have a huge impact on our mood. The simple act of cleaning and decluttering will reduce the visual and psychological mess that can affect our mood. It’s very difficult to feel relaxed in a setting of chaos. The associated feelings of guilt that come with a messy house can also drag down your mood.

 

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10. Read up

Since the house is already tidy, why not invite a few friends and neighbours around and start a book or movie club? Get everyone in the group to read the same book or watch the same movie, then get together at your place to chat about what you all thought over a cuppa and some cake?

 

So there you have it. 10 simple tips to brighten up the house, get tidy and lift your mid-winter mood. Less than six weeks until spring folks!

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Phyllis Stylianou

Phyllis Stylianou is a journalist with 35 years’ experience as a reporter, sub-editor and editor. Writing is the great love of her life (after her family) – as is renovating old homes and building new ones (which she’s embarking on again!) So writing about everything to do with building, renovating and gardening is her passion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.