Greece is a country that enjoys long, easygoing summers and beautiful warm weather that spills over into autumn. But, we struggle just like everyone else to maintain our favorite season’s laidback spirit, playfulness, and sense of freedom once the “winter blues” hit.
It’s common for people to suffer from lethargy, mood swings, and increased hunger when the temperature drops. During the colder months, nights outlast days and the lack of sunlight can make us feel melancholy. But, we’re all about bringing that uplifting summer vibe all year! So, if you find yourself being bummed out by grey skies, brighten your days with our tried and true tips.
1. Follow the light. The sunlight in Greece is legendary. It’s no wonder the ancient Greeks worshipped the Sun. Some would say we still do! In fact, we always make an effort to get out whenever it makes an appearance. So, go outdoors, even for a little bit every day. Take a brisk walk, and don’t forget to stand with palms facing upwards for 10-15 minutes to absorb vitamin D — a vitamin found in sunlight that is proven to boost your mood. If you work close to a park, always keep a large beach towel or sarong handy for an impromptu alfresco lunch on the grass, when weather permits.
2. Recreate a day at the beach indoors. Okay, stay with us here. It may feel strange at first, but trust us, it works! Find the sunniest room in your house or apartment and make some room on the floor. Turn up the heat so you’re comfortable wearing a T-shirt and shorts without feeling cold. Roll out your favorite beach towel, making sure it’s placed in an area with direct sunlight, and play some music that reminds you of the summer. Then, lie down with your eyes closed and soak up the sun’s rays for a couple of minutes as if you were sun tanning. Finally, open your eyes and enjoy a few pages of a magazine or trashy novel, or plan your next vacation. The whole point is to keep it fun and simple, just like a day at the beach!
3. Chill out. When we’re cold, we tend to contract and tighten our body. That, along with the anxiety that comes with increased obligations associated with winter, causes shallow breathing. This means we’re taking in less air into our lungs, and the body remains in a constant state of stress. We want none of that, of course! Controlled breathing, on the other hand, reduces stress, increases alertness and boosts your immune system. Yes, please! Try this simple breathing exercise:
- Sit upright, close your eyes, and place your hands on your belly.
- Breathe in slowly to the count of 5, expanding your belly.
- Pause and hold your breath for 2 seconds.
- Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
Do this exercise for 10-20 minutes a day. If you want, you can use visualization to take it to the next level. Just think of waves gently splashing the shore, bright blue skies, and warm sand between your toes. You can do this sitting at your office desk as well. Even one minute of controlled breathing will make a huge difference to your stress levels.
4. Schedule free time. Okay, we know you’re busy. So are we. That’s why it’s so important to schedule free pockets of time within your day as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. Even though summer vacation is but a distant memory, waiting for the weekend or warmer weather for the opportunity to connect with friends, family, or even yourself, will only deplete your energy. It’s crucial to be deliberate about it, so mark it on your calendar. Give yourself permission to stop work, unplug and recharge without guilt. If you happen to be a workaholic, just think of it this way… relaxing increases productivity and benefits your overall health (fewer sick days!). Plus, you’ll spend less time daydreaming about your next vacation at your desk. See what we did there?
5. Eat intentionally. Let’s get one thing straight. We’ve been known to indulge in a few slices of pizza and the occasional plate of loukoumades. (Fried dough balls that are crispy on the outside, deliciously soft on the inside, and sprinkled with sweet honey, cinnamon, and walnuts. Little bites of heaven, but we digress.) However, we also love the energy we feel after we have eaten a light, but satisfying meal at a seaside tavern in August. A craving for heavy carbohydrates seems to go hand-in-hand with winter, as they provide us the comfort we seek, though temporarily. The truth is that sweets and processed foods can end up making you crash and burn, physically and mentally. Now, we’re not saying to totally deny yourself your favorite treats, because that’s no fun, and we’re all about fun, remember? But, if you make a conscious effort to fill your plate mostly with fresh, seasonal foods that nourish and energize you, you’ll be able to maintain that carefree, “beach” state of mind, even when it’s snowing.