Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues & Enjoy the Season!
It’s the middle of November. Days are shorter, darker, and growing much much colder. Snow has officially started to fall! Even in Albuquerque where we don’t get much snow, it already feels colder than normal (yes I know I’m a baby but I did grow up in the desert after all). Cut me some slack please!
With winter’s soon arrival, it’s the perfect time to talk about the winter blues and how you can keep your sanity and increase happiness.
What are the winter blues?
The winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that is related to the changing of seasons, usually in the fall and winter months. Symptoms usually include oversleeping, low energy, weight gain, and appetite changes.
It can be easy to push these feelings aside in the midst of all of the chaos of the holidays but do yourself a favor, don’t. Put some steps in place to prevent and manage the winter blues.
Here are some things that may be helpful:
It can be easy to to forget about exercise when all you want to do is cuddle up in a blanket by the fire but I find it to be the most helpful way to feel more energized and fulfilled in the winter. All you have to do is get moving. Find a gym near you, do a workout at home, swim at an indoor pool, go for a hike, stretch, or try hot yoga (a personal favorite of mine in the winter)…just get moving.
Get Outside! (Especially When the Sun is Out!)
It’s a beautiful time to be outside. Yes it’s cold and some places snowy but oh well! There is plenty fun to be had outdoors. Bundle up and enjoy yourself.
Take your dogs for a walk around the block or at the park
Walk around the neighborhood to look at the lights
Build a snowman
Make a snow angel
Go ice skating
Go snowboarding or skiing
Attend a seasonal event in your community
Brighten Things Up
This might sound crazy but studies have shown that lighting can cause a chemical response in the brain that lifts your mood. Natural light is the most beneficial so you should try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside, open your blinds, change out your lightbulbs. Make sure your environment is bright and hopefully your mood will be too.
Try Something New
Because you are spending more time inside, it’s the perfect opportunity to find a new hobby, to invest time in trying something new. The opportunities are endless.
Read that book you’ve been putting off
Arts and crafts
Play an instrument
Tis the season of giving back to your community. Volunteer opportunities are endless at this time of year. Check with your local food bank and shelters about donating or volunteering. Your local on-profits need all of the help they can get to do the amazing work they do.
Cook With Friends
When I’m feeling down in the winter, cooking and baking with the ones I love always makes me feel better. Honestly, this is probably the only time I enjoy cooking (baking I love always!). Try some of the amazing recipes on Pinterest or make something that reminds you of happy times and traditions of your childhood.
Enjoy Time w/ Loved Ones
For most people, this time of year is the only time all of their loved ones are in one place. Make time for friends and family that are visiting. It is always nice to spend time with those you don’t get to see all the time. If you do see them often, it’s still nice to spend this time together. Aside from sharing a meal, there are usually plenty of festive activities to do together.
Attend a holiday parade
Attend your local tree lighting
Drive around to look at all of the Christmas lights
Shop for presents
Have a gingerbread house building competition
Do your best to continue to eat your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. This can be hard when your surrounded by cookies, fudge, divinity, pies, candy, and everything else sweet. Enjoy these things too but also eat what your body needs to function. Without the vital micronutrients and vitamins in these foods, you might feel more sluggish.
The winter blues and seasonal affective disorder are not completely understood but the interventions mentioned above and many others may be helpful in reducing symptoms associated with depression and improve your mood.
I find these things to be helpful when I’m feeling unmotivated and exhausted around this time of year. Usually if I continue to eat healthy, work out, and focus on doing things that make me happy I found myself enjoying this season much more.
If you’re like many of those experiencing this and find yourself with a case of the winter blues try some of the ideas I shared above. How did they make you feel? Is there anything else you do to combat the winter blues?