chin up this winterLong nights, short days, busy schedules; winter can really wear you down if you’re not careful. For mums on a budget it can be one of the hardest times of the year, what with work deadlines, presents, roast dinners and high heating bills on the agenda. For all the love and fun of family, it’s important that you take some time for yourself over the colder months. Here are five ways to last out the dark and get some feel-good feelings into your bones.

Bedside Light Lamps

One of the worst parts of winter (besides the cold) is the lack of clear, bright sunshine. The mornings are pitch black, the evenings are pitch black, and in between its cloudy with a chance of rain. It’s no wonder that diagnosis of seasonally affective depression is on the up – but we’re not all helpless. Affordable sunlight simulating lamps are on the market, some even working as alarm clocks that brighten throughout the morning, ala sunrise. The result? More natural sleep patterns and a healthier winter lifestyle. They might even cheer up your teenager.

Vitamins, Minerals and Chicken Soup

One of the reasons we need sunlight is to keep up the production of vitamin D in our bodies, but there are other ways to make sure both you and your family are topped up with all the necessary ingredients. Daily multivitamins, taken alongside a balanced diet, can help keep your immune system in fighting form and your body ready to tackle the cold. Prevention is better than cure, especially when the cure for most winter colds is just gritting your teeth and getting on with things. Check out this list of vegan and veggie vitamin sourcesif needed.

A Girls Night In

It’s easy to find yourself shut in with the kids most nights during winter. Besides Halloween and bonfire night, there’s little to no incentive to make plans after all. And yet everyone needs some good socialising from time to time, so why not organise a girl’s night in? With winter comes plenty of opportunity for mulled wine, mince pies and terrible Xmas jumpers. Find an excuse, any excuse, be it betting on I’m a Celebrity oddsfor the finals, munching on festive snacks or drinking down cocoa (read: Baileys Irish Cream) then get to having fun.

A Girls Mornings Out

Exercise is hard enough at the best of times, let alone in the harsh middle of winter. Still, there are ways around it. Burn off the mince pies and Baileys with a walk around the park, ship the kids off to the grandparents and head to yoga (inside, with central heating), or make it to the gym on the way back home from work. Endorphins can do wonders, and more often than not there’s time in your day, even during the winter, to get them pumping. You just have to push yourself. And if you can’t, get a friend to push for you! Gym buddies exist for a reason.

Snowball Fight!

With every cloud comes a silver lining. In this case, snow!

Snowballs, snow angels, snowmen, snow women, walks in the snow, days off school and work. It might shut down the entire infrastructure of the country, but at least it’s pretty and fun. Point is – you’ve got to make the most of it, and that goes for winter as a whole.