Last week was Daylight Savings Time and suddenly I was getting out of work after sunset. As I entered my car and flipped on my headlights, I felt like screaming in anger. The impulse passed and I realized… this wasn’t just about the sun setting. This was about my dread of Winter.
I had to admit to myself: the frozen tundra is coming. Soon we will be hearing words like Wind Chill, and Below Zero, and … UGG Boots. It is coming and we in the Midwest can do nothing about it (except move and moving is hard).
Preparing for winter is a process for everyone, but if we prepare for it, we can fend off the winter blues.
One distinction before we get started. The Winter Blues is a diagnosible condition, but very different from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which cannot be cured through self remedies. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinical type of depression suffered when temperatures and daylight decrease. People who have SAD require intensive light therapy treatments and sometimes antidepressants. If you think you may have SAD, please talk to your doctor.
Dress Happy, Be Happy
Instead of wearing sweats, pull out your favorite clothes. Dress warm of course, but make sure you feel confident and sexy. I like wearing skirts with layers of warm leggings, tights, and socks. Trust me, it’ll be warmer than the material women’s jeans are made out of.
If you want to bundle up even more, choose clothes that make you smile. I’ve started doing this with all of the things I own, based on the KonMari Method, which I plan to write about at a later time. If your winter clothes make you feel ill, replace them with clothes that spark joy! My favorites are this dinosaur sweater (I added the bow), sock monkey slippers, kitty ears hat, and these soft, Shea socks that I’ve been saving for a particularly hard winter day.
I know it seems wrong, perhaps even angering, but embracing positive thinking can help a lot in keeping your spirits high this winter. Wake up to a favorite song instead of a blaring alarm. Then reorient yourself to being cheerful by making a list of all the good things that you are going to do that day, even if it is just taking a warm shower and enjoying your daily Starbucks coffee.
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. —Thich Nhat Hanh
Force a smile on your face while making breakfast and see how long you can keep it there. According to Psychology Today, smiling releases neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, helping you release stress and actually feel happier. Seems odd, but it is hard to be sad while wearing an enormous grin.
Embrace the Season
Have you ever considered how many holidays are in the cold winter months? Starting with Halloween, we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, and the finally Easter! All of my favorites at least!
Holidays can be rough for some people, especially ones without families to celebrate with… or even some who have families but that are hard to celebrate with. My suggestion is to ignore the drama and embrace the festivities. Even if you are planning to skip the celebration at Aunt Myrtle’s this year, crank up some Christmas music, give gifts to those you really love, and decorate your house with bright colors and lights.
Visit your local display of Christmas lights or take a tour through your neighborhood. Maybe give the best display a small gift as a token of your appreciation. After Christmas, host a party where everyone regifts the presents they didn’t want. Like white elephant or Yankee Swap, but funnier. Point is, don’t get stuck in a winter rut. Embrace holiday cheer, especially served in eggnog.
Indulge in Healthy Eating
Think twice before ordering that high priced Caramel Brulée or Gingerbread Latte. While delicious, these drinks are filled with nothing but empty calories and sugar that will bring temporary bliss and crash into depression later in the day.
Use that extra cash instead to indulge in dark chocolate. You heard me. Winter is an excuse to eat chocolate. Make your own Homemade Hot Cocoa so you know exactly how much sugar is going into your drink. Load up on nutrient rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Buy these fresh from a local grocer to make sure they haven’t been sitting in a warehouse being blanched of vitamins and minerals. Some products like bagged apples can take over a year to get from orchard to store and sold to us as “fresh”!
Be Solar Powered
Bundle up and get out into the sunshine. While it might not be out on your way to and from work, take your lunch break and walk around your building. Open the curtains and let the sun shine in whenever possible. Doing something on your computer? Take it near a window and sit in the patch of sunlight.
Make every day gym day, whether you get to the actual gym or not. Get some sort of aerobic activity each day. Aerobic exercise increases your immune system, reduces tension and anxiety, and releases endorphins. It also helps ward off winter weight and keep you bikini-ready year round… or you know… at least shorts and a t-shirt ready.
Supplements to Success
In my opinion, vitamins are vital. After surviving four winters in the deadly tundra that is Indiana, I realized that even with diet, exercise, and positive thinking my winter depression was not going away. That’s when I started taking a regimen of vitamins. Vitamin D is what I have seen the most success from. I take 2,000 IU every day, and I have noticed distinct mood changes if I skip a day.
Other vitamins that are good for fighting the winter blues are Omega-3 fats, which among many other benefits like heart health, reduces depression, and Melatonin, which helps treat insomnia and provide a deeper sleep.
Do you have any tricks to warding off the winter blues? Share in the comments below! If I find any helpful, I may add them in later on.