Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog


Tips on beating the winter blues

winter blues

*Written in Collaboration with BetterHelp, sharing my story of SAD 

I know that in general I feel more positive, energetic and focused during the warmer months while the opposite can be said for the start of the year as I come off Christmas and New Years exhausted from the stress of it all. My energy levels take a dive and my normal active and out-going self starts to battle with lethargy and the shorter days seem to get to me, the clouds seem to hang lower and feel heavier. Having grown up in the southern hemisphere this is all still fairly new to me and catches me unawares year after year and I find I have to plan lots of activities during the colder months to break the monotony of it all before spring really sets in.

Having gone through more than a few cycles of this, pretty much every year since moving to the UK, I know that the reduced amount of sunlight during these months affect me despite even when I make sure to get out as much as possible. The thing is the "Winter Blues" isn't a myth and actually affects a lot of people and it's important to be aware of it and make sure it doesn't develop into SAD or otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.


For those who don't know what SAD is here are the main symptoms

1. Feeling lethargic and more sleepy during the day
2. Being less active than normal
3. Finding it difficult to concentrate
4. General Low mood and feelings of low self-esteem
5. Feeling irritable, stressed or anxious
6. Being less sociable

These are just a few of the symptoms and for some they only arise during the winter months and often people start to see them improve in the spring. SAD however can vary from person to person and while some just find it a bit irritating like I do, for others it can be quite severe and impact their day to day life.

The good news is that there are a few simple ways to break this cycle without any use of medication (although of course if you are really struggling it is always best to consult your GP). Here are a few natural ways to kick those winter blues back to where they came from

1. Active Lifestyle - if you are susceptible to mood changes over the winter months it's really important try and lead a healthy and active life as getting out in the natural sunlight as well as exercising regularly both have real positive effects and help stress levels and raise natural serotonin. Even if you just set yourself the task of taking a half hour walk every day for 30 days you will start to see the difference.

2. SAD Light Therapy - there are a variety of SAD lamps available particularly for those who suffer with seasonal affective disorder and is a form of light therapy which mimics natural outdoor light helping to realise those feel good hormones and aim to raise your mood and help with sleep. While these lights are not cheap and start at around £40 you can use them year after year and is a good investment. You can see some impartial tips on buying a SAD light here.

3. Talk it out - it's really important to talk about mental health because being open and talking about things that are bothering you or your struggling to deal with is the first step to taking back control and is a positive approach. You will be surprised how many people will be able to help even if it's just watching the kids for a few hours, a coffee and chat or a shoulder to moan (or cry) on. You can talk to your GP about counselling although waiting lists can be long, another option it talking to a qualified therapist any time of the day with Betterhelp which could be a good option for those who work and have a family and find it hard to schedule time to talk to someone that works for their lifestyle.

seasonal affective disorder

Another (slightly more pricey) option to banish those winter blues is to head off to a warmer climate for a week or two on a break away as this is something to look forward too, even if just a temporary measure. Check out my post on the best places for winter sunshine here.

Also if you are concerned about SAD then it's worth checking out the NHS website for more information and there is also a fantastic Cardiff based Charity called Heads above the Waves which is about supporting those affected by depression and promoting positive and creative ways of dealing with the bad days.


A winter weekend guide to Tenby

Jumping on the beach

Every year during the winter we head off to Tenby for no other reason than to slow down, enjoy the moment and step away from things like social media for a few days and just enjoy the simple pleasures that are abundant in this beautiful West Wales costal town. We purposely go off peak because this small village becomes incredibly busy during the summer months but in stark contrast can be the perfect slow and mindful weekend staycation at other times of the year, which is why we keep going back.

If you are not familiar with Tenby it's a pretty harbour town on the Pembrokeshire Coast and is famous for it's colourful houses that line the shore as well as the boats that sail from the harbour to Caldey Island which houses a working Monastery. Tenby is also steeped in history with the earliest recording of a settlement there from the 9th century with various remains from past years left behind such as stone-wall fortification on Castle Hill, 13th century medieval town walls and 15th century Tudor Merchants house.

As we have visited a few times during the off peak period I thought I would share my ideal relaxing weekend break to this wonderful part of Wales and simple ways to reconnect and slow yourself

family travel

What to see

Explore South Beach and Castle Beach

Every year we take a stroll through Tenby, pick up a pastry along the way and head down to South Beach to explore some of the little caves and inlets as well as find pretty sea shells, we usually spend a good two hours just enjoying the fresh sea breeze, building sand castles and taking it all in before getting some ice-cream (yes even in winter). At low tide you can also get really close to St Catherines Fort which apparent is back open at various times to the public.

Castle Beach Tenby

Take in the view from Castle Hill

Stairs run all the way down to Castle beach so after you have enjoy some time in the sand take a gentle stroll up to the top of Castle Hill which is a fantastic vantage point not only of the coastline but also pretty much the whole of Tenby as it gives you a 360 degree view. There is also a small tower which is the remains of Tenby Castle a long with one or two large cannons which the kids of course love climbing on top of.

Tenby Museum and Art Gallery

Discover what makes Tenby the place is is today at this small but perfectly formed museum and gallery space which a variety of exhibitions and family friendly features and is also free for children under 16. This is also to be the oldest independent museum in Wales having been established in 1878 and happens to be on top of Castle Hill

St Catherines Fort

Visit the RNLI Lifeboat Station

This fairly new and modern Lifeboat station is can be found between the North and South beaches and is an easy walk with beautiful views. The station is classes as an "explore" lifeboat station and encourages visitors to come and see the work they do. When boats are not on call their is free access in the summer months and a public view gallery open on weekends plus you can do a pre-booked tour in the winters.

Discover Pembroke Castle

Not technically in Tenby but as it's less than 20mins drive away I highly recommend this family friendly historical attraction as it's a fantastic example of a Medieval Castle and is the largest privately-owned castle in Wales. You can climb one of the many round towers for breathtaking views or head down the 55-step spiral stairwell to the large limestone cave below the castle known as Wogan Cavern. You can easily spend 2-3hrs here discovering every nook and cranny and their is also a nice cafe on-site

Welsh Castle

Places to Eat

Tenby has a real array of places to eat from low-key cafes to fine dining and you are really spoilt for choice but here are my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in this cute coastal town.

Start the day at Loafley

The past two times we have visited Tenby we have made sure to stop into Loafley for some pastries and freshly baked bread to take home. This family owned bakery and delicatessens has an array of wonderful local treats as well as in-house baked cakes and loaves. They now also have a sister cafe called The Mooring.

Ice-creams and smoothies from The Dennis Cafe

The Dennis Cafe is located right on Castle Beach and we always make sure to stop by there are a few hours on the beach. Depending on the weather we will just grab a cone of local Ice-cream and sit on the beach, although if the weather is not that favourable they have the best view from their seats where you can enjoy one of their legendary doorstop toasties or delicious smoothies.

ice cream

Hipster food on the go - Indie Burger

Indie burger offers up American street style burgers where they don't hold back on the extras, saying that they also have plenty of veggie and vegan options and has a young and fun atmosphere using Welsh produce and on a mission to serve up the best burgers in town! A nice little instagrammable spot that also delivers and is great for those who want casual and quick dining.

The Qube Restaurant - Elegant Family Dining

Qube was 2018 Food Awards Regional Winner and I can see why with it's stylish but welcoming interior, well thought out menu using local produce, knowledgable staff who are more than happy to accommodate families, in fact kids eat free from 5-6pm daily. We enjoyed a lunch at Qube and enjoyed their Mezze board and warming soup with some fresh salad, the perfect stop off point for a busy day.

Comforting Pub Grub at The Lifeboat Tavern 

We have gone to The Lifeboat Tavern for three years in a row and have never been disappointed. The atmosphere is always friendly and on cold days they have the log burner going and the bar is made out of an actual wooden lifeboat. I usually opt for the massive greek salad which comes with an abundance of olives and feta and the food is always pretty large proportions but doesn't scrimp on quality ingredients and if your feeling brave they also have a burger challenge or epic proportions! They are also very family friendly and often have live music on in the early evenings.

Greek Salad
Big Greek Salad at The Lightboat Tavern 

Where to stay

There are plenty of places to stay in and around Tenby and it all depends on budget and what you are looking for but here are a few places we have either stayed or are looking at staying at soon.

Perfect Location - Premier Inn Tenby

You may think it's a bit of a boring choice but as most of Tenby offers B&B's or older stay hotels this fairly new Premier Inn is a great spot for families and those on a budget who want somewhere really central as this hotel has the perfect location less than a minute away from restaurants, shops and the coastline. As this hotel is less than 5yrs old its very clean with a modern interior and restaurant on-site and has parking right next door so is perfect for those who want a great base where they can walk to everything.

Stay First Class in The Jet Star Plane 

The Jet Star is around a 10 minute drive from Tenby town centre and is unique to say the least and I mean how many people can say they slept in a plane from the seventies? There is even a lit up bar area and the cockpit has an xbox with some flight games. The great thing about the Jet Star is it's suitable for a family and even though it's technically "glamping" it's powered by mains electricity and has heating, making it a fun place to stay all year round.

Jet Star Plane

Direct Beach access at Sunnycove Apartment

If your staying for a long weekend and want to have a space to make your own then 1Sunnycove could be the perfect spot as it's situated right on North Beach with a beautiful balcony overlooking the sandy beach where you can enjoy a cup of coffee. Nearly every window in this apartment has sea views and there are steps that lead down directly onto North Beach below.

Chill out at Bluestone Resort

Again not technically in Tenby but in the neighbouring town of Narberth lies the every popular family resort of Bluestone. We have visited Bluestone twice and have always had a fantastic time as it encourages getting outdoors and enjoying what is on your doorstep as much as possible and with it being only a 20min drive from Tenby Town centre it's a great option for families especially if your planning longer than a weekend away. There is also a fantastic pool and leisure centre on-site as well as a Spa and various places to eat and drink - you can read a review of our last stay here.

I hope this mini guide to Tenby has inspired you to jump in the car (or train) and head to explore more of this West Wales costal town, you won't be disappointed.

Tenby guide

I have no affiliation with any brands mentioned within this post and paid for our trip in full. This is not an AD


Gifts for loved ones who live overseas

Love balloon

*Post contains affiliate links

Being an Expat I know what it's like living hundreds of miles away from family, friends and people I care about and with Valentines day coming up, which I personally celebrate as a day to show those special people in my life such as siblings, parents or partners, no matter the distance they still mean a lot of me and are in my thoughts. With the world seemingly both vastly big and incredibly small due to how easy it is to communicate despite distance and with more and more people working in the digital landscape as digital nomads as well as people in my position, no longer living the country they were born or grew up in, it can be a strange time of the year, as well as those in long distance relationships.

So here are a few gift ideas and not only for Valentines but also for birthdays and special occasions in which you just want to show those who live far away that you care.

A photo book of memories

There are so many great apps and websites that allow you to put together photobooks quick and easily and send them internationally without any stress. I recently tried out Tremo which makes beautiful books from instagram images which means you can share memories of you and your friends in a stunning hand held photo album and best of all its international free shipping! Google photos also offers a very easy to use photobook service with international postage. Lets be honest there is nothing more wonderful and sentimental than opening up a photo book full of memories, than can be shared across oceans.

photo memories

Get them a subscription to something they love

Many services these days offer subscriptions which you can purchase for 3,6 or 12 months or pay monthly and can be done from anywhere in the world. So for example if your loved one really enjoys films then why not buy a Netflix subscription or if books is their thing then Amazon Kindle unlimited or the same can be said for music lovers and Spotify premium. None of those options have shipping fees yet or are physical present yet still feel very personal.

You can still do flowers

Getting a bouquet of flowers delivered to someone you care about overseas is actually way easier than you think and it's something I have done more than once. Well know florists such as Interflora (and many more) utilise a large network of florists around the world to offer you an easy way to order online and have a personalised card and flowers delivered to pretty much anywhere! Some even offer the option to purchase other things such as a basket of Valentine gifts online to express your love to the distant partner, friend of family member.

flower gift

You can even send cake!

Just like the flowers there are now plenty of options for sending personalised baked goods internationally (or made locally to the person you want to surprise and paid internationally). A cake is one of the most loved desserts on memorable occasions. You can dedicate a delicious cake to surprise your beloved partner or loved one on this Valentine’s day. If he or she is far from you, then order Valentine’s day cake online at their place. A lot of services offer personalisation such as something written on the cake which can add that real personal touch despite being hundreds of miles away.

Send them a ticket

Maybe I am just a real romantic (even when romance isn't on the cards) but I love the idea of sending a loved one whether that be a partner, friends or family, a ticket to come and see you! This is probably the most expensive option but wow what gesture! 

How to still make an effort with no budget

Even if you have little to no budget for any of the suggestions above that doesn't mean you still can't make an effort because it's often the small thoughtful things that mean the most. Here are 3 free or extremely low cost suggestions to just let the people you care about know you are thinking of them

1. Pick up the phone - you can call internationally for free via Whats App (as long as your both on Wifi) and Skype and both allow you to video call for free as well! So there is no excuse to not talk too and see your loved ones this Valentines, no matter where they live.

2. Send an email - take time to sit down and write a proper heartfelt email and attach some recent photos as well - they way friends and family can still feel in the loop with all that you are getting up too.

3. Write a handwritten letter or postcard - nothing beats a hand written letter and of course also make sure to pop in some recent photos. There is a postage cost but a small lightweight letter is still very minimal and is a great way to add that personal touch. 

I always aim to keep in touch with all those I miss and care about in South Africa and with so many services offering international delivery and with phone calls now costing nothing has really opened that up and these are both more personal than a DM through social media so do make the effort as there is no excuse not too!

expat living

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...