This winter has been brutal, to say the least. Even the warm weather states have been hit with cold and snow. If the winter blues or blahs or getting to you, you are not alone!
Winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is not as common, but a very real thing. If you have any of these symptoms, like unending hopelessness, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
But, if you are like most of us, who are just sick of winter, here are some ideas to survive the next few months!
1. Change Your Attitude Last month my husband said, “Would you stop saying how cold it is?!” I hadn’t evened realized how often I truly complain about the cold. Every winter I dream about moving to a warm weather location and never even give myself a chance to embrace the winter months.
Since our conversation I decided to change my attitude and try to embrace the winter and cold months. And you know what? I think it has worked! Instead of focusing on how cold it is, I’ve been trying to focus on all the positives of winter.
2. Get Outside Normally, going outside is the last thing I want to do during the winter months. But, there is no denying that being in fresh air and in nature will make you feel better. The key is to make sure you dress warm! A few years ago my son was in Montessori and they spent the first 45 minutes of preschool outside. On the really cold days he would cry because he didn’t want to go, but I realized once he was dressed warm enough he loved it.
This year I made sure that I had a really warm coat and boots and it has definitely helped me, as well. Freezing is no fun, but if you are bundled up being outside is an immediate refresher. But, there are positives, even if you are freezing – the results of a study published last week showed shivering may rev up your metabolism!
3. Take Advantage of Any Sunlight This is tough if you live in a grey weather location. Lack of sunlight is what I dread most about winter. The sun has been out more in New England than in the Midwest, so that definitely helps on my end, but there are still days without sun.
If you have SAD, treatment includes light therapy, and can be an option for anyone lacking natural sunlight. If you do have sun – get outside as much as possible! Open the curtains to let in as much sun as possible. Sun in the morning is best, if possible.
4. Exercise Exercise has been proven as an effective treatment for depression, and it definitely helps if you are just suffering from the blahs. There are so many benefits for exercise and really, it should be part of our routine for mental and physical health. I finally found a doctor who actually prescribed me exercise – 5 days a week for 30 minutes – and listening to him has made a world of difference in fighting the winter blues. Endorphins really do wonders!
5. Exercise Outdoors Since our move, I haven’t joined a fitness center, so I have been relying on walking and running outside. When it’s cold, it’s often hard to get outside, but once I get out, I feel great by being in nature and exercising. But, make sure you are careful if there is snow and ice on the roads! You don’t want to be like this runner and bite it on live TV!
I was determined to run one day last week with fresh snow coming down. It wasn’t bad until I attempted running on a hilly trail and quickly realized there was no way that I was not going to fall if I continued that path! Sledding and playing in the snow is also great exercise!
6. Be Social. The problem with really bad weather is that you get stuck indoors and are often isolated, which is no fun. Take advantage if you can get together with family and friends. If not, why not Skype or chat on the phone?
Our last snow day we spontaneously invited neighbors over for hot chocolate and snacks after playing in the snow. Before bed I asked my kids what the best part of the day was, expecting to hear sledding or the snow ball fight, but they said having everyone over to our house. My kids definitely love to socialize and the days we have things planned with others really help with the long winter days.
If the roads are okay to get out, make a point of being with other people, especially those who make you feel good! This is a good excuse to plan a party!
7. Get to Your Happy Place. I was lucky to get a few hours at one of my happy places in January and anytime I feel bad, I relive those moments in my head. If you get a chance to get to warm weather – do it! If not, spend time at your other, more feasible, happy places. Mine include nature & trails, coffee shops, bookstores, the spa, and shopping (even if just browsing). Just getting out somewhere outside of home and work helps!
8. Utilize the Time for Indoor Projects & Activities (Without Guilt!) Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of doing things inside that you may feel guilty about or not want to do when the weather is nice out. Read. Redecorate. Organize. Watch movies. Lay on the couch. Catch up on US Weekly or your favorite juicy websites. Work on your photo albums. Break out the crafts.
9. Laugh. Talk to a friend that makes you laugh. Watch a funny movie or upbeat show. Laughter is medicine:) Skip the depressing news while you are at it. On our list this weekend – a date night to a funny movie!
10. Watch Your Alcohol Intake. You may feel like drinking your sorrows away, but while alcohol in moderation (as in 1 drink/day) has some benefits, more than one doesn’t. Plus, having more than one drink will probably mean you will feel the effects of it the next day, thus leading to more blahs!
11. Drink More Water. Winter is a time that it is easy to skimp on water. Staying hydrated really does wonders – try drinking more water and see if it helps!
12. Sleep. Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It also has a healing power. Use the yucky weather as an excuse to catch up on your sleep and more importantly, try to stay consistent with at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Check out this great chart on how much sleep we need broken down by age and more sleep tips.
This old post also has more sleep resources and shows why I think sleep = love!
13. Pursue Your Passion. I’m not sure if it is the weather or just the pieces falling into place, but I finally signed up for a training I had been thinking about for 4 years! The winter blahs is a great excuse to think about ways to pursue your passion!.
14. Keep the Kids Entertained (without TV or Electronics!) We all love our kids, but being snowed in when you still have work to do is stressful. After way too many snow days, the same board games and toys start to get old. Check out this Pinterest Board for some fun ideas to beat boredom!
15. Play Music & Dance. Our iTunes purchases tend to dramatically rise during the winter months, but it definitely helps our mood! I love Pandora & Spotify for free music. Our favorite song right now is Happy from Despicable Me 2 by Pharrell. I mean how cannot you not be happy listening to this song!
What helps you with the winter blues?
Stay warm. Stay Positive. And remember Spring will be here before we know it!