Money Matters Team

Making the most of winter

By Money Matters Team 16/12/2020

Your lighthearted winter survival guide

Getting through winter can be a challenge at the best of times – but add Covid into the mix and the coming months can appear even darker than normal. Well, they say laughter can be the best medicine, so we’ve put together these top tips – some more serious than others – to lighten the mood and brighten your day.

Indoor gardening

If you’re worried about getting eaten by bears – and we’re not judging – you could try your hand at gardening inside where it’s cosy, warm – and safe. By choosing plants carefully it’s possible to have beautiful scents, colours and vibrant life in every room in your home throughout winter. If you have a sunny south-facing window, many plants are easy to grow indoors in winter. If your rooms are darker, consider indoor grow lights. You can find these online and at garden centres if you’re fortunate enough not to be in total lockdown. Full spectrum fluorescent bulbs are the most widely available and cost-effective. Try herbs like basil, oregano, sage, lavender, thyme, rosemary and dill. Mint doesn’t mind the shade, although it still needs a few hours of direct light each day to thrive. And consider chillies (cayenne, jalapeno, habanero, etc) – all of which grow well indoors. The smallest varieties, like cayenne, are the easiest to ripen and are beautiful as they go through their traffic-light colour change from green to amber to red.

Stay active

Much research suggests that people who exercise regularly tend to be happier – but lockdown has made it more difficult to get out and about and meeting up with friends for an early morning run is a distant memory. But don’t worry, exercise comes in all shapes and forms and it’s surprisingly easy to burn calories and get those endorphins flowing. Vacuuming for 30 minutes can burn around 100 calories – and you have the added benefit of having a nice clean house. But don’t stop there, why not sign up for an online exercise class? There are many to choose from – both paid for and free – and it’s also a great way to meet people and to do a bit of safe socialising.

But nothing beats getting out and about – so try to make time every day to get some fresh air down your local park. Wrap up warm, remember to social distance and wear a mask if it makes you feel more confident. It’s great to feel the wind on your face and hear the birds in the trees – and seeing dogs running around and children playing is a healthy dose of normality that’ll do wonders to lift your spirts.

Heart-warming food

Eating well has never been more important because sticking to a healthy diet can help maintain your immune system. The good news is that with many of us spending more time at home, it’s easier than ever to prepare tasty, wholesome meals that are good for your heart and soul. Try boosting your 5-a-day by mixing mashed potato with other root vegetables like parsnips, carrots and turnips. The downside of never being more than a room away from your kitchen is the temptation to snack. We know self-control only goes so far, so when you can’t resist the urge any more, reach for a cup of homemade vegetable soup or a bowl of stewed fruit to fill the gap (it tastes nicer than it sounds!). And don’t worry about buying frozen fruit or veg - sometimes they’re even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts and will last well in the freezer.


If you’re struggling to sleep, we could have the answer. Studies have found that clutter can raise your level of cortisol, a stress hormone. That’s possibly because it over-stimulates the brain – and high levels of cortisol are associated with anxiety, depression, headaches and disturbed sleep. With many of us working from home we don’t need any added distractions. So take the time to have a clear out. If you have kids, get them involved – it can be fun to sort through old drawers and find long-lost items that bring back happy memories. Anything that doesn’t give you joy – give to charity. Or if you want to earn a bit of extra spending money try selling unwanted items online. It’s exciting when your phone pings as a bid comes in.

Do something new

There is an upside to lockdown – and that’s that we all have a lot more time on our hands. So why not set aside an hour each day to do something completely different? Learn something new - the Open University alone has nearly 1000 free courses to choose from. Whether you’ve always wanted to speak another language or learn to play an instrument, now’s your chance. But if that sounds a bit challenging, don’t worry – why not just curl up with a good book, a cup of cocoa and let the winter storms rage as you’re transported to a different world.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.