I have lived most of my life in the Chicagoland area but, even before that, I lived in Pennsylvania. Point? I’m used to cold winters! Doesn’t mean that I necessarily like them much, but I have learned to embrace them.
As I’ve gotten older (and colder) I’ve had my share of the Winter Blues. They usually start creeping in about the 2nd or 3rd week of the New Year and last until the first thaw. Although this year those feelings have been pretty minor, there have been other years where the feelings were rather intense.
It’s much more common that some people think. But there are things you can do to help beat those Winter Blues.
Here are my favorites:
Let There Be Light!
During the winter months, there is less sunlight so it’s important to take advantage of it while you can. While it can be tempting to stay in your warm, cozy bed it’s important to get up early and open those blinds right away. Because my husband is up and out the door while it’s still dark outside, I open my blinds slightly after I turn out the lights so that the natural light will wake me up. Then, when I go to the kitchen for that cup of coffee, I open up the blinds to the sliding glass door and stand for a few minutes soaking up the rays!
There are so many benefits to an adequate supply of Vitamin D. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, prevent disease, regulate blood pressure, avoid wrinkles and more. But did you know that a Vitamin D deficiency can adversely affect your mood? It can be difficult to absorb adequate amounts of this important vitamin during the winter months because of the shortage of sunlight.
Even on cold, cloudy days I get outside and allow the daylight to shine on my face. Not only am I taking in the Vitamin D but I’m allowing myself to be invigorated by the cool, crisp air. Many hardware stores also sell “full spectrum” lights that can be helpful indoors.
As I said previously, I try to spend time outside every day, even on cold, cloudy days. Sure, I’d sometimes rather be experiencing a sunny day at my backyard pool or kicking back in a beach chair on the sand. But there’s nothing like a brisk, after-dinner walk after a snowfall. It’s quiet, peaceful and serene which is good for the body and the soul.
There are so many things you can do outdoors during the winter: sledding, hiking, skiing, ice skating, or just simply walking. Being active releases chemicals that elevate your mood. And when your body responds to that exercise, that will make you feel good too!
There’s something about the winter that makes you want to eat more, especially comfort foods. But we are not bears or squirrels that need to bulk up before a long, winter’s nap. If you give in to those urges, you’re likely to take in a lot of processed foods or refined foods. These steal your energy, causing you to become lethargic or even depressed. And winter weight gain isn’t likely to help your mood either.
Get Enough Sleep
I still maintain that you should get up early and take advantage of the early morning light. With that being said, people tend to stay up later at night during the winter camped out in front of the TV or computer. If you are consistently staying up late and trying to get up in the morning that is going to wreak havoc on your mood. Since it gets dark so much earlier in the evening anyway, why not take advantage of that? Early to bed, early to rise is never more important than it is during the winter.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your home needs to be drab and boring. Paint a wall a big, bold color. Add color with some bright pillows on the furniture or drape a bright throw over the back of a sofa. Make sure you have some great houseplants on hand that can live inside year round. Just a few, colorful pieces throughout the home can perk up your mood while you’re inside.
Perk Up That Wardrobe
In the wintertime, some people tend to hide in yoga pants and oversized sweaters. That’s fine if you have the flu or you’re doing housework. But if you dress that way all the time, you’re bound to get depressed! You can still wear comfy pants if you’d like, but pair them with bright, bold tops or sweaters. Wear some fun stockings or socks, with some funky shoes or boots. A fun scarf completes the look!
These are just a few of the things I’ve developed over the years to combat my Winter Blues which, like I said, have ranged from minor blues to severe sadness. If, after following some of these tips, you still find yourself fighting feelings of depression and sadness, don’t be afraid to seek help and speak to a professional. Best of luck to you!!