Pick-Me-Ups for the Winter Blues
It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people get the winter blues. Having 20% of the population struggle this time of year, is nothing to ignore. More often, the wintertime blues, can often be preceded by the stress of the holiday season, making it an extra hard time for those that struggle.
Below are some tips which I hope you find helpful whether you or someone you care about needs some self care during the holiday season, are struggling with the wintertime blues or just having a tough time of it lately. Taking time to do certain things with the specific intention of taking care of our own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health is self care and is necessary.
Life’s daily responsibilities and unexpected events can sometimes take a toll on all of us. Because of that, it is important to have strategies that help us hit the pause button and provide opportunities to center us back up.
If you prefer exercising at the gym, then keep that going, but consider changing up your routine as that may do just the trick, especially if you are someone who likes being outdoors. Even if you aren’t a fan of the cold, try layering up and getting some exercise outdoors. In the winter time, there are lots of outdoor activities including: ice skating, snow shoeing, skiing, sledding, snowmobiling or even hiking a beautiful, nature trail. The idea is to get moving and be back outside as fresh air does both the mind and your body good!
Many State Parks offer lantern lit snowshoeing or hiking events that include warm hot chocolate and a bonfire. At least one day of the week, commit to exercising with no expectations and no judgement, meaning you aren’t counting reps or trying to reach your personal best. Do something fun, and preferably outdoors. Connecting with nature always does wonders for the soul.
2. MAKE FOR A COZY EVENING
Start a warm fire, make some hot chocolate and enjoy some alone time with a good book to just decompress. Or, set the same scene and spend time with a loved one or your family…whatever is needed to boost your mood. Then settle in and watch a feel good movie or a movie you know will make you laugh.
3. HOST A GET TOGETHER WITH FAMILY AND/OR FRIENDS
This may seem counterintuitive given that many times when people are down, the last thing they want to do is spend time with people, but actually, spending time with people you really enjoy can provide a much needed boost. Make it easy on yourself by making it a potluck. Set a theme such as Game Night, or to watch a big game, or buy one of those murder mystery games that make for fun evenings. This gives you something to look forward to without creating a lot of extra stress since each person will be responsible for bringing something to eat. Stick to paper plates and plastic utensils (someone can bring those) so clean up is a breeze.
4. STICK TO A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE.
Getting enough rest is always important, but its equally important to get your body adjusted to a regular schedule on when you typically go to bed and when you wake up. Getting a consistent good night’s sleep can help with alleviating symptoms associated with the stress, wintertime blues and feeling down.
5. TAKE A MINI STAYCATION / DO SOMETHING YOU DON’T TYPICALLY DO.
Ideas may include, going to a nearby town to have dinner, go to a play or a comedy club then stay the night in a hotel or find a unique outdoor activity and gather some friends to try something new.
6. UNPLUG….LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY.
Texts, emails, phone calls, never ending to-do lists come at us from all different directions every day. It’s no wonder we start feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed.
It is so important to set some boundaries and unplug from it all. Allow for 15-30 minutes a day where you tell your family no interruptions and take a much needed break from technology. Use that time however you need to decompress, whether you want to take a bath, do yoga, read, write, play with your dog….whatever is needed.
7. JUST ADD WATER
The sound of water is relaxing in itself, whether it be the trickle of a stream, the waves rolling onto the shore or even hearing the bath tub filling up. Water is a natural stress reliever. Knowing that, spending some time in and around water is great way to decompress. Find some nearby hiking trails that are along a river or stream, hike to a nearby waterfall, walk the beach while listening to the waves come in.
If you are a bath taker, there is scientific evidence that baths are therapeutic, and in more ways than one. They help you relax and fall asleep faster and more soundly, they lower your blood pressure, help relieve sore and tired muscles, and they are cheap with bath fizzies and bath salts being affordable.
It’s ok to ask for help.
If after trying these tips and you still don’t feel better, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, it is estimated that as many as 20 percent of people struggle with the winter blues, and up to 6 percent may suffer from a more serious form known as Seasonal Affected Disorder or SAD. Finding a way to manage these feelings can help you get help to get through this season that is often difficult for many people.