We surveyed 1,500 Australians to find out how the winter season affects their behaviour and found that cold weather and dark nights seem to be having a bigger effect than we might like to admit!
Winter moods may be dependent on location and age
Eighty percent of residents living in Canberra and 58% of Tasmanians say they feel more irritable in the winter. Average temperatures hover around 0-9 degrees during winter in these regions, making people less likely to venture outside.
It may come as no surprise then that Queenslanders maintain the best mood throughout winter - only 38% admit to suffering from the winter blues! Average winter temperatures in Southern Queensland are around 15-18 degrees and gradually increase to 30 degrees when moving north towards Cairns and Townsville.
Age also seems to be a factor when determining seasonal moods, 52% of 65+ year olds said they feel more irritable throughout winter compared to only 36% of 18-24 year olds.
Symptoms of Aussie Winter Blues
It’s not just feeling low that we have to worry about. Winter signifies flu season, cold weather and dark nights, and Aussies seem to find it harder to maintain their usual healthy, carefree lifestyle.
We looked at what our survey revealed as the top symptoms of Aussie winter blues and have provided our best advice to ensure you survive the season!
Caring less about your appearance?
In an article by Rheyanne Weaver, a majority of women believed what they wore affects their confidence and influences their mood. The lighter the clothes, the lighter the mood. It’s no wonder 50% of Australians in our study admitted to caring less about their appearance in winter.
Put on your favourite woolly hat, matching scarf and gloves and get ready to venture outside! Walking in the winter sun has the benefit of releasing endorphins that help our mood and boost energy levels. Even ten to twenty minutes a day out in the sun will make you feel more invigorated. The sun’s rays will also strengthen your immune system and improve sleep.
Trouble waking up?
Getting out of a warm, snug bed into a freezing room can be a buzzkill. Well, 77% of Australians seem to think so. Women seem even more susceptible to the morning struggle. 82% of women in the survey reported they find it difficult to wake up in the morning throughout winter.
Cold mornings are enough to keep even the most enthusiastic exerciser in bed, hitting the snooze button. Therefore, being prepared the night before by making sure your slippers and warm dressing gown are in reaching distance of your bed will help. Once you wake up, turn on the heating in the bathroom before going to the kitchen to switch on the kettle. This may help remove the chill in the air prior to starting your day.
56% of Aussies we surveyed admitted to overeating in winter compared to summer, with even more women (62%) confessing to an increased appetite in the winter months! This might be because our primitive impulses want us to accumulate calories to cope with winter. Especially for people who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, eating high fat foods can increase the levels of serotonin in the body, which causes temporary feelings of happiness.
It’s the perfect time to eat winter vegetables, like parsnips, carrots, pumpkin and potatoes (white potatoes can be starchy however, sweet potato, also known as kumara is a healthy, hearty alternative). Rather than draping them with oil to fry/roast them, you can place these into a hearty soup to still gain all the nutrients. Omega-3 rich foods, like oily fish can also boost serotonin, as with dark chocolate in moderation. Replace coffee with herbal tea to help warm your insides. Drinking herbal tea will also alleviate the temptation of binge eat a packet of chocolate biscuits at the same time!
Binge watching TV?
70% of respondents we surveyed admitted to watching more TV in winter. This is in conjunction with a recent study more than a third of Australians eating most of their meals in front of the TV each night, which may solve the case of why we tend to overeat during winter. Dr Joanna McMillan, a prominent Australian nutritionist stated people who eat their meals in front of a TV are most likely to overeat poor quality foods and continue to snack until they go to bed.
One solution may be to make the choice of eating at the dining table with your loved ones. This will help break the TV cycle as well as your overindulgence. Restrict TV for after dinner only and for relaxation purposes. And if you plan to have a warm drink while watching TV, make sure it is herbal!
Struggling with exercise?
If your answer is yes, then join 59% of Australians who admit to exercising less in winter. Australian Capital Territory were the least active, with 67% of residents exercising less in winter. However, this is not the case for 32% of New South Wales residents, who state they actually exercise more over winter than summer!
When leaving your warm bed feels like a crime, exercise during cold days might not sound that appealing of an offer. Therefore, in winter, it is better to have an exercise goal to achieve. The goal may be to run daily around your local area, take a walk in the bush or along the coast twice a week. Not into walking or running? Then maybe the goal could be to hit the gym for weight training. Just remember, if your workout is monotonous then you won’t stay motivated for long. So, change your workout routine to take on a yoga or Zumba class. Or, you could purchase a few sessions with a personal trainer who will motivate you during the winter period.
On a more positive note, the cold weather does seem to be having one benefit when it comes to our work lives. Forty-nine percent of Australians say they have increased performance at work throughout winter compared to summer.
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