WE may have less than a month until the official start of Autumn – and already we're feeling the post-summer blues.
Autumn starts officially at the end of September and all you want to do is curl up on the sofa in your baggiest pyjamas and binge-watch The X Factor while stuffing your face with pizza and chips.
Research by Weight Watchers has found that half of Brits care less about their bodies in cooler months, with two in five admitting they eat more and 80 per cent saying they feel less motivated to exercise.
Psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie said: “The transition between seasons can have a major effect on our psychological state, including our mood, our behaviour and our patterns of thinking.”
The study found that 40 per cent of us put on more than 5lb during the colder seasons and that this week is when we first loosen our belts and settle down for a lazy autumn.
Here, LYNSEY CLARKE asks experts how we should take control NOW to avoid the autumn slump.
BLEAK weather makes us want to pull on the jogger bottoms and a woolly fleece, but The Sun’s fashion assistant Siobhan O’Connor says there is no need to forfeit style for the sake of comfort.
She says: “On a chilly morning, avoid pondering over what to wear by making a midi dress with long sleeves your go-to."
"Slip it on, pull on a pair of boots and you are good to go without needing to think too much.
“Jumpers can be cosy and chic. A bold colour will help to instantly brighten your mood while a colourful lippy can help refresh your look.
“And invest in a coat you love. Going outside will feel much more glam if you want to show off your outerwear.”
Don't be sad
SHORTER days can lead to low moods, while persistent “winter depression” is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, appropriately enough.
GP Dr Nicola Williams says: “It is horrible to both get up and go to bed in the dark, so get outside for some natural light and fresh air.
“A short walk at lunchtime can be a great way to boost your mood. Increasing exercise and spending more time outside will massively benefit your energy levels.
“If your working pattern prevents you getting outside, artificial sunlight can be beneficial but ensure you use a medically certified SAD lamp.
“For that feel-good factor, make a list of all the things you like doing and try to do one of them every day.”
Fill your boots
WHEN the weather is cold, our bodies crave more food.
Nutritionist Amanda Ursell says the key is finding warm, filling and nutritious meals.
She says: “It’s easy to reach for the biscuit barrel and go for stew with potatoes and dumplings. But overloading with sugar and starchy carbs is the worst thing you can do.
"Sugar plays havoc with your blood sugars, resulting in low energy, while carbs give you a serotonin rush, making you crave more.
“Eat two eggs at breakfast and you are likely to eat 400 fewer calories that day, as they keep you full for longer.
"Eat lean protein with slow energy-release carbs like fruit and veg, sweet potatoes and nuts.”
WARD off sniffles or bothersome cold sores by eating healthily and stocking up on vitamins.
Dr Williams says: “Eat a good diet with plenty of fruit and veg, including sources of vitamin C, which helps to protect cells and keep them healthy.
"Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and is manufactured by sunlight through the skin, which is harder in winter.
“If lacking, you might notice fatigue or muscle weakness. It is found in oily fish, red meat and egg yolks, or you could take a daily supplement of 10mcg.
“If you suffer from cold sores, improve your diet, drink more water and protect your lips with balms.
“Supplements such as lysine can help.”
IF summer has wiped out your bank balance and you want to hibernate with Netflix, get your mates round too. Friendship is crucial for good mental health.
In her book Lagom: The Swedish Art Of Living A Balanced, Happy Life, Niki Brantmark says: “Swedes will often suggest meeting at home rather than in town. The key is keeping it simple.”
At Swedish get-togethers, she says, it is common for everyone to chip in with whatever they have in the fridge, resulting in a relaxed, fuss-free event.
There is no need to hit the pub. Rather than drinking wine, which can have a depressant effect, try “fika” – taking a break for coffee and a sweet treat with a friend.
Short and sweat
SHORTER days make us less inclined to hit the gym before or after work.
But YouTube fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read reckons a four-minute workout is quite adequate.
She says: “It’s about intensity not duration. Squeeze in a four-minute high-intensity routine in the morning and you will make healthier choices all day.
"Work out at home in your pyjamas. There are hundreds of routines on my YouTube channel.
“Push hard for 20 seconds, followed by ten seconds marching on the spot to recover, then repeat.
"It’s vital to work as many muscles as possible. So if you are lunging, add an arm lift.”
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