When your mood is falling as fast as the snow outside your window, there are lifestyle improvements you can choose to warm up your spirit.
When nothing but a very full, very strong pot of coffee will get me out of bed, I know it’s winter time!
The days are way too short, temperatures way to low, and to top it off; High holiday bills!!
Starting to get the winter blues?
Before hibernating like a bear consider some simple and effective strategies that are bound to lift your spirits and ease that mid-winter gloom.
1. Brighten up.
Open up the blinds and curtains. The key is to take in that sunshine any chance you get.
Even if you have to get out the chainsaw and trim back those branches, do it !!
Our bodies crave daylight and require it for certain key vitamin production.
One option that is used in countries with long dark winter seasons is called a “light box.”
It’s a small artificial light that provides the needed light. Just 30mins sitting with a book or relaxing time is enough.
2. Eat smarter.
I wrote a post about “working smarter, not harder.”
During the winter months let’s all try to apply this principle.
I tend to turn to food for comfort in the winter months (oh let’s be honest…every month!).
When I become aware that I’m doing this I try my best to make better decisions about what I’m putting in my body and eat smarter not harder!
Comfort foods, such as chocolate (we do love our Fika here in Sweden!!) can help enhance our mood and relieve some of our anxiety.
An extra big portion of mashed potatoes can produce temporary feelings of euphoria but will most likely increase feelings of anxiety and depression too. Not worth the moment of bliss sometimes!
3. Simulate dawn.
Normally my day begins with a loud alarm, fumbling in the dark to stop the annoying sound, and then a bright light being flipped on! Ouch!!
I tend to cope ok with this and can quickly wake up and get out the door walking Darcy (our beloved Basset Hound).
Some people might find the mornings particularly difficult.
Last year I wrote a post about coping with the winter months and I discussed a condition worth knowing about, Seasonal Affective Disorder.
People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can benefit from an additional intervention.
Research has shown that a dawn simulator, a device that creates light in your bedroom that gradually brightens over a longer, set period of time, can help SAD symptoms tremendously.
Small things, such as how we wake up, can be key for some people in turning around tough times.
With the winter comes changes. That’s a fact.
These changes don’t have to dictate changes in your lifestyle though.
If you have also found like I have, that daily exercise keeps you sane and feeling good don’t let the winter “snow you in.”
Last evening I laced up my ice bugs for the first run of the winter season with my friend Jason. An ingenious Swedish company that created running shoes that can perform equally well on ice and in snow.
We took to the streets for an easy run around the beautiful snowy landscape.
We had a reasonably big snowfall over the last 48hours leaving the trees and shrubs full of lovely white snow.
When I’m out running in it I find it extremely peaceful and invigorating.
5. Turn on the tunes.
As Justin Timberlake says, “get up onto those feet and just dance, dance, dance.”
Music can help lift our spirits if it’s chosen wisely.
I shared a strategy for students called “keep cool tune” that uses this principal to help shield against stress.
We can readily use tunes as well to shield is from the winter blues!
6. Plan a vacation.
Last year the family and I took a weeklong vacation to Gran Canaria and enjoyed sunnier days at the beach.
Sometimes the simple act of planning a vacation creates a significant increase in our overall happiness.
Believe me, I was thinking of that planned vacation on many Monday mornings and basking in the sun before we ever felt the real warmth of Gran Canaria.
7. Give a Helping Hand.
The very things that will help us cope better during the winter months are often the hardest things to muster up the strength to do.
Volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction. The trouble is we don’t feel like helping nobody but ourselves when we are:
- depressed / anxious, or
When we break through the selfishness and help others, big or small, we feel great and energized!
8. Outside you go
When the temperature drops and it’s dark by 3:30 in the afternoon the last thing you feel like doing is getting outside.
Because that comfy sofa chair is much more appealing it’s hard talking yourself into going for a walk.
Resist the urge to be a couch potato…
because the benefits of spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels. A good reason to get on all that winter clothes!!