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Strategies to beat the winter blues are becoming necessary over in my part of the world. It snowed here last week. It’s getting dark before supper. I’m cold all the time. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed or do any of those horrible adult things I know I’m supposed to do.
Every year I ask my boss if I can take the winter off for hibernation. Every year, she says “nice try, but the answer is still no.”
It might not seem like it, but I love winter. Once I get over my initial reluctance to embrace the cold and snow and adopt a schedule where my quota of physical activity is met by shoveling and chipping ice off the deck, it’s actually not so bad.
That’s a good thing because I live in Saskatchewan. The land of endless winters, well nearly 6 month-long winters anyway. I’d bet you’re wondering how I do it, how I live through months of frigid cold temperatures without falling into a pit of despair where my motivation plummets right alone with my happiness?
You’re in luck because I’m going to share all my secrets with you. Whether you live in the north pole or somewhere that only has a couple of weeks of icky weather, these tips will help you get through it.
What are winter blues?
The winter blues, sometimes called seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder are characterized by a noticeable decrease in mood and motivation as the season changes. With a decrease in natural light and lower temperatures people often feel down.
It’s seasonal, particularly connected to winter, hence the name. Life suddenly gets harder to deal with. This may be particularly prevalent after the holidays when the festivities are over and the credit card bill is due.
Winter blues are very different from depression. If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, if it seems you’ve been feeling this way for a really long time, or if these bad feelings seem bigger and harder to fight than they should, please talk to someone. You may be dealing with depression or some other illness and not just a case of the winter blues.
How to Beat the Winter Blues
Get outside (especially when the sun is out)
Go for a walk. I know it’s cold, that’s not a great excuse. Walk faster, pump your arms, moving will keep you heart rate elevated and your blood pumping. Thus, keeping you warm.
Don’t forget to bundle up. Cozy scarves, a chunky toque, gloves and boots are all essential for out-door activities this time of the year.
Exercise is good, fresh air is good, sunlight is good. Going for a brisk walk is such an awesome way to boost your mood and refocus your mind.
I’m not talking about your mood although if that can use a boost, feel free. The key here is to surround yourself with as much light as possible.
Open your curtains, turn your lights on enjoy the fleeting day time hours. Even bright artificial lights are helpful in keeping us from falling into that winter slump.
Turn Up the Music
Few things can boost a persons mood as effectively as some upbeat music. Turn it up, have a little dance party in your livingroom. Invite your spouse, pets, kids and really make a party out of it. Be sure to laugh and sing along.
Whether you turn it into a party or not, listening to music can boost your mood in both the short and long-term.
Winter is isolating. By the time you get home from work, the last thing you want to do is get all bundled up again but social connections are important. Plan a weekly wine and board game night with your friends, join a book club.
You might even be able to plan it so you go there right after work. That way you don’t need to get all bundled up and go out into the cold again once you’re at home.
I’m sure I’m not the only one fighting the urge to hibernate for a few months. Sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed is the promise of a good, strong cup of coffee.
I’ve been devouring this coffee with extra caffeine lately. The extra caffeine means I have my embarrassingly high number of cups of coffee every morning and I’m good for the whole day. No need for an afternoon pick me up with this stuff.
Find a Hobby
Winter is the time when we all like to sit around and binge a good television show or book. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the end we’re left feeling unaccomplished. I’m in no way suggesting you stop watching TV, I’m looking forward to the new NCIS episode too.
If you take up a hobby like knitting, coloring or putting puzzles together, you’ll end the tv show feeling accomplished. Feeling like you’ve done something in the evenings will go a long way towards helping you want to get out of bed in the morning and staying motivated all day.