Story by Ann Butenas
Here we go again. It is that time of year when the skies are gray; the temperatures are falling; your mood is changing; and the world seems to lack the vibrancy it had during the warmer, sunnier months of summer. As the days get shorter and darker, you may feel yourself drawn to the couch and the covers, ready to settle in for three months of Netflix and hot chocolate. But don’t despair! You do not have to relegate yourself to minor moments of misery when you can incorporate a few different elements and activities into your day to elevate your mood and lift your spirits. When the sun fails to shine, you can be the light! (Okay – that was sappy, but you get the picture!)
If you want to beat those Winter blues, here are a few things to check off your “to do” list. Before you know it, they will become “to want to do” things! (Trust me; even the slightest bit of exercise followed with a plate of veggies will do wonders for your attitude. I get it….a piece of chocolate is awesome, but I promise you 30 minutes later you will probably feel lousy again. Learn from my experience!)
While it may be challenging to motivate yourself, it is important to get up, get out and get going.
Put on some exercise clothes and your sneakers, grab your earbuds tuned into some stepping music head outside for a walk. On those days when the weather keeps you inside, go for a swim indoors or find a local gym. Granted, in these days of Covid-19 you may just prefer tp walk around your house or go up and down the stairs multiple times. Throw on some upbeat music to get you inspired. Dance around the living room. Do some sit ups, leg lifts and crunches. If all else fails, vacuum your house. That will not only get the place clean, but it will also burn a few calories.
Eat a healthy diet.
While you may be in full swing with the holiday baking, all of that sugar is not going to do you any favors. Fill your fridge with the bounty of good nutrition. Aim for fruits and veggies of deep green or orange colors. Think: broccoli, kale, and carrots, all of which have nutrients that will improve your mood and boost your immunity. (And in the year of the pandemic, that is more important than ever!)
Turn on the light!
Choose lamps and strategically place them throughout your home to create soothing “pools of light.” Invest in a sunlight lamp that mimics natural light, allowing you to “catch some rays” that can boost your mood and feel more energized.
Immerse Your Senses.
Paint a wall in your home a bright color. Paint your nails. Light some candles. Discover essential oils and how their scents can lift your spirits. (Peppermint oil is an energizing scent.)
You can find a sense of purpose when giving to others. Find a cause in your school, community or local organization that speaks to your heart. This sense of individual responsibility will play a huge role in lifting the weight of the dead of Winter off your shoulders. When you take the time to care about others, you don’t have time to worry about the weather.
It’s okay to treat yourself every now and again. Enjoy a bowl of popcorn with a family member. Cook up a pot of soup over the weekend and savor it while reading a good book. Do a jigsaw puzzle. If snow is on the ground, break out the sled! Just do something that prioritizes yourself. Everyone needs to unplug and recharge.
While it is not uncommon to feel the occasional twinge of sadness and frustration when the Winter days tend to linger a bit too long, if you experience prolonged feelings of depression and/or have trouble navigating a typical day, struggling with day-to-day tasks, then you might want to consider speaking with a therapist about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and what therapies he or she might suggest to assist you.
And if you implement some or all of these tips before the dead of Winter hits, then you can potentially keep yourself ahead of the Winter blues. Yes, Spring feels like such a long way off, but by choosing to do positive things for yourself, then perhaps you can still keep a bit of “spring” in your step!