The sudden cold spell most of us are currently experiencing can come as quite a shock, one day we have normal autumn weather and suddenly its freezing cold with snow, or at least that is how it seems. It vital that we take care of ourselves during these times of the year, not just from a personal point of view but from the point of view of our business and careers. The following is some advice to get through the cold snap as stress free as possible – Work If you have a long distance to travel to work and you normally drive consider the possibility of working from home while the roads are dangerous, if this option isn’t possible be aware that your journey will take longer. Consider purchasing a set of snow chains for your car, make sure the tires are in good condition and that the engine is running well. Breaking down in the cold weather is not a nice experience. Remember safety first. Employers should be aware that it will be more difficult for others to get into work and try to be as understanding as possible, deadlines might get stretched so aim for the most urgent items first. Re-schedule outside meetings or consider conducting them via Skype or telephone (or similar). Be aware that others may be delayed or have to cancel during the cold spell, remember that even though the roads might be cleared for you, another might still be stuck in their driveway. Travel It’s possible during the cold weather and especially with snow that flights are delayed or even cancelled, check your flight information before you leave your home and leave with plenty of time to spare. Make allowances for slow moving traffic and for bad travelling conditions. Trains do tend to run ok during the cold weather however it’s not unheard for them to be cancelled also so check ahead. Look after your body Cold weather can be tough on the body, wrap up warm leaving the house, remember to also bring with you a hat (you do lose a lot of body heat from your head and if your head should have a little less hair that the year before…well, you get the picture), scarf and gloves along with a good warm coat. Skin tends to dry out quicker in the cold weather so moisturize daily, keep a lip balm handy and some hand cream. Keep feet warm and dry, nothing like freezing cold toes to make you lose your concentration and focus. Eat a Healthy Diet What you eat can have a great affect on your mood and energy. It’s best to avoid a lot of refined and processed foods like white breads, rice, and sugar, its natural during the winter months that cravings for these types of foods increase. These foods are not only devoid of the nutrients your body needs, but they can deplete your energy levels and affect your mood—causing depression, lack of concentration and focus, and mood swings. Why not try eating more complex carbohydrates such as brown bread, brown rice, vegetables, and fruit and remember to drink your 8 glasses of water per day, your body still needs to be hydrated during the winter months. These healthy foods provide your body and mind with nutrients; stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels. Get out in the Sun Most people know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D but did you know that it also improves your mood….. hence the reason people seem to be in such a better mood when returning from holidays or during the summer. Winter days are much shorter and darker than other months, and because of the cold weather and icy conditions, a lot of people spend less and less time outdoors. This winter try to spend a little more time outdoors, take a walk outside around mid-day when the sun is highest in the sky. If you cannot get out for 15-20 minutes of sunlight a few times a week, you can take Vitamin D supplements; ask at your chemist or doctors office for the amount you should take as this may depend from person to person. Treat Yourself Having something to look forward to can keep anyone motivated. Especially after Christmas when winter seems endless, and if you plan something exciting or something you enjoy doing, your mood improves when you’re anticipating it, this type of excitement is also known as Eustress, or good stress. Plan something that’s exciting to you—a weekend trip, a day at the spa, a massage, a get together, or special event like a play, a night out, or sporting event. By engaging in hobbies and activities that we enjoy and find fulfilling will keep us boosted during the winter but will also reduce stress and anxiety. Go ahead and relax! Life is busy with work, studies, family, friends, appointments, meetings—even if you enjoy being busy, everyone needs some time off. Don’t be afraid to say “No” to extra demands made on your time, you have the right to refuse. Try to spend a few minutes each day doing nothing! Read a book or magazine, take a bubble bath, watch a movie, sleep in on the weekend, go to bed early, try some meditations, or take a yoga class. Relaxation, especially in the form of yoga or other movement therapies, can alleviate stress and leave you with a calm energy. Mental exercises like meditation and positive thinking can help keep depression at bay and often has beneficial effects on wellbeing and peace of mind. Having a massage, Reflexology session or other therapy can also do wonders for reducing stress, releasing endorphins into the body and can help to boost the immune system. Embrace the Season Instead of always avoiding the cold and the snow—look for the best that it has to offer! Put on your wool hat and gloves and meet winter head on. Take up a winter activities like ice skating, skiing (although there isn’t much call for that in Ireland), plant bulbs in the garden for spring (such as daffodils, tulips etc), build a snowman or even go sledding (and believe me adults enjoy this as much as children). Enjoy these opportunities while they last—after all, they’re only here a few months per year and every day should be embraced. Staying active will boost your energy a lot and many winter activities are strenuous meaning you get a workout at the same time. Try seeing winter in a positive light, with all the fun activities that it has to offer, will keep your spirits high. Social Support Never underestimate the power of friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. These are often the people you turn to when you’re down and need a pick-me-up. Keep a mental list of these special people and don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement when you need it, most good friends who know you well will always understand. Something as simple as a phone call, a chat over lunch, a natter over a pot of tea, a nice email or letter can do a lot to brighten your mood. Likewise look out for the older members of your family and community over the winter months, make sure they are eating well and have all they need in order to keep warm over winter. Also popping into an elderly neighbor, a parent or grandparent can mean the world to them especially if they live alone. Remember to get your sleep People naturally want to sleep a little bit more during the winter. But with the busy lives many of us now live, sometimes sleep is the first to be affected. With a little time management, and some self-discipline, you can meet your sleep needs. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to get to bed and wake up around the same time each day. That way, your sleeping patterns can normalize and you’ll have lots more energy. With a little forward thinking and learning to take care of ourselves, this winter can be a fun, relaxed and stress free time, enjoy the snow and remember to laugh.