Life

Marie Louise McConville: Research has found that doing housework can help women beat the January blues

Research has found that doing housework can help women beat the January Blues - give us a break

It's hard going this surviving January business, isn't it?

Apart from being cold and dark, it just feels like the month is never ending.

Every morning when I glance at the calendar in the kitchen, my heart sinks a little as I look all the way along towards the 31st and realise how far off it is.

I know we shouldn't wish our lives away but I wouldn't mind seeing the back of January.

Usually, I don't really feel the drudge of the New Year but this year, it has really hit home.

Going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark is really getting me down.

To be honest, I can't remember what the sun looks like or what it's like to feel heat outdoors.

And apparently I'm not the only one (thank goodness).

According to a study of 150,000 people, women suffer far more from feeling low at this time of year than men.

Our moods plummet, we feel tired and stressed and take less pleasure in things we normally enjoy.

Researchers in Glasgow actually believe that the female brain is more sensitive to the cold and dark, due to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol and a greater inflammatory response to environmental factors, making us more prone to winter depression.

So, with no spare funds to spend on a sun-soaked holiday to the Bahamas or anywhere for that matter, I thought I'd look into ways I can boost my mood for the least amount possible.

Envisaging extra sleep, sweet treats and bingeing on box-sets, I set out to make my choice, only to discover that some of the scientifically-proven methods of giving myself a pick-me-up are not what I had hoped.

In fact, one recommendation from scientists is getting stuck into housework.

Give me a break – no really, give me a break.

How can dusting and hoovering more help me feel better? I absolutely hate housework (except laundry) and really dread having to do it.

Actually, just knowing I have to do it puts me in really bad form.

However, researchers claim that sweeping the floor or doing the dishes can really help cure the blues.

It's claimed that moving around produces certain chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the brain which can make us feel happy.

In addition (and this really is a long shot), trimming the hedges and cleaning the windows increases the amount of natural light getting in, which will also boost our mood.

I don't know about you but I'm definitely not feeling this one.

Moving on…

How about eating mushrooms?

Apparently, mushrooms are magic as they are packed with Vitamin D which is normally provided by sunlight.

Scientists even recommend taking them out of the packaging and leaving them outside for half-an-hour before cooking to enhance their mood-boosting effect.

Sounds good. I love mushrooms.

But, if you're not a lover of fungi, how about some banana peel tea?

Researchers in Taiwan found that banana peel contains ingredients that increase levels of serotonin, the happy hormone.

All you have to do is boil a washed banana skin in water for 15 minutes, let it cool and remove the skin before drinking.

Or how about wearing a pair of happy glasses, which emit light to penetrate the retina, triggering a positive response in the brain?

However, they don't come cheap and can set you back hundreds of pounds.

We're also told that we could boost our mood by buying pot plants – which stop the air from becoming stale – or by painting a wall a bright colour or by adding something bright to our wardrobe

Even eating something bright could have the same effect – so we're told.

Or, we could listen to pop music.

Scientists claim listening to upbeat music can get us in the mood for dancing, which will give us an endorphin kick.

So, there's only one thing for it then.

I'll give the front room a quick dust while drinking a cup of banana peel tea in between munching on some sauteed mushrooms and I'll do all this while blasting some Spinning Around by Kylie which will inspire me to water the plants and paint the dining table bright pink.

That should do it, don't you think?

But I'm so tired.

Anyone got a Plan B?

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Competition

If this dismal January has left you feeling dull and dreary, how about winning a glamorous self-tanning kit to help you get your glow back?

Luxury tanning and skincare brand, Vita Liberata, has everything you need to stay golden through the winter months with an incredible collection of non-toxic, organic and odourless products.

The brand created the world's first odourless tan in 2007 and in 2011, Vita Liberata became the first completely non-toxic tanning brand free from parabens, perfume, alcohol and all chemicals of concern.

With natural and certified organic approved extracts key to its formulas, the brand offers a conditioning skincare treatment that also tans the skin, resulting in a flawless skin finish.

So, how do you fancy glowing your way through the winter?

I have three luxury Vita Liberata Winter Glow kits to give away – each of which contain a Self-Tanning Anti-Age Serum, a Trystal Pressed Powder in Sunkissed and a Ten-Minute Tan.

All of this products are perfect for a hint of bronze and will nourish your skin during the cold and dry winter months thanks to the highly active organic ingredients they are from.

If you fancy winning a kit, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, January 23, 2017

(Q) In what year did Vita Liberata create the world's first odourless tan?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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What's Hot?

Derry Girls - Love. Love. Love. Enough said.

Animated Fun - If you're looking for some fun activities to do with the kids this weekend, why not check out Coco at the cinema? The new animated movie tells the story of an aspiring musician, who is confronted by his family's ancestral ban on music.

Return - Fans of the world's most famous singleton, Bridget Jones, are rejoicing after actress, Renee Zellweger, hinted at a possible fourth movie. Brilliant news.

So Not!

Loss - Tributes have been paid to Irish singer, Dolores O'Riordan, who passed away suddenly this week. The 46-year-old, who was best known as the lead singer of The Cranberries, died in London.

Not impressed - I used to love Death In Paradise on BBC One however, having only watched the first two episodes of the new series featuring Ardal O'Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney, I'm afraid it's just not working for me. Switching off.

Criticise - TV legend David Jason has criticised comedy show, Mrs Brown's Boys for its use of profanities. The 77-year-old star said he found the language in the show "a bit strong" though he added that he thinks "it's very funny".

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Competition

The winners of the TG4 GradamCeoil are Ann Millican, from Newry, Marie McGreevy, from Banbridge, and Gearóid Scott, from Dungannon

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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Honey Porridge Bites

You will need:

For the Base

50g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease

125g porridge oats

50g caster sugar

40g honey

For the topping

50g golden syrup

100g caster sugar

397g tin condensed milk

125g unsalted butter

300g plain chocolate, chopped

To Make:

Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a square cake tin and line with baking parchment.

In a pan, over a medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the oats, sugar and honey.

Spoon the mixture into greased tin and flatten.

Bake in oven for 12min until golden. Set aside.

In another pan, bring the golden syrup, caster sugar, condensed milk and 100g butter to the boil, whisking constantly until it is a rich, caramel colour.

Pour over the oat mixture. Set aside.

In a bowl, melt the chocolate and remaining butter.

Pour over caramel mixture and and evenly.

Leave overnight to set.

Cut into squares and serve.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

m.mcconville@irishnews.com

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