How to Beat the Winter Blues

 Everyone I’ve talked to lately is in a funk. I’ve felt it myself: for the past week, I’ve woken up anxious. It only lasts for a few minutes, but after the second day, I was concerned. Usually, I’m pretty perceptive about how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it, but in this case, I had no explanation. It was just one of those ‘bad day’ feeling kind of situations.

The winter is always the hardest season to get through. I remember in college, praying to make it to spring emotionally intact. My suitemates and I would get stir crazy, stuck inside because of the cold, and bummed out in large part, due to the weather. I always noticed that people were more on edge, more argumentative, and for no fault of their own. About a month into the new year, the winter blues hit hard.

Unless you live somewhere sunny and warm, you’re probably at the point where, like me, your energy levels have dipped and you’re finding it hard to keep a positive spin on things. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out what means and methods work best when seasonal depression takes its toll. The list I’ve complied is definitely still a work in progress, but I hope it helps a little as we all wait impatiently for spring to arrive.

ONE// Eat Well, Get Some Sleep, and Exercise

I can hear my mom’s voice in my head as I type this. Her approach to most physical, mental, and emotional issues is holistic. Her belief is that if you’re eating the right kinds of food, getting an ample amount of sleep, and exercising regularly, then everything will be solved in time. I think I’ve been conditioned to jump to those conclusions myself- most of the time when I’m sick I blame it on lack of sleep. It holds true, however. The better you treat your body, the better you feel. It’s definitely harder in the winter to push yourself to get outside for a run or to find the willpower to resist making a tray of brownies on a Friday night when the temperatures are below freezing, but in the long run, it’s worth it.

TWO// Take Vitamin D

On the topic of food- Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins that, when lacking, can’t be easily gained through food. So, what is its main source? The sun. Because of this, most people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency in the winter without even realizing it. When you’re outside, less skin is exposed to the sun’s rays and the absorption is far less. Lack of energy and dull moods can be a direct result of this and most doctors will recommend taking it once a day. Everytime I have an appointment, my doctor recommends I take a supplement, and I think I’m finally going to take her up on it.

THREE// Dance it Out

We used to do this thing in my college dorm every so often, when someone was having a really tough day. One of my suite mates would pick a playlist and for a few minutes we would just dance it out. It’s silly and feels a bit childish (especially if, like us, you really can’t dance) but it helps. First, you get to shake out a bit of your stress and second, you give your mind a break from all it’s overthinking. So, pick your favorite song and go at it. Extra points if you sing along.

FOUR// Show Gratitude

There’s an old Soul Pancake video that I’ve used with my students to explain the power of gratitude. Not only does it make someone else feel good when you show them gratitude, but it has been proven that it makes you feel better as well. Whether you draft a letter you never send, or give someone a call, the smallest act can go a long way in changing your mood. Plus, you’ll make someone else’s day, which is a definite plus.

FIVE// Write a List

I’m a list maker, by nature, but I find it particularly helpful when I’m feeling negative to put a few positive things down on paper. Sometimes it’s a list of the important people in my life. Sometimes it’s a list of things I have to look forward to over the next few months. Recently I was listening to a podcast where the host suggested that you should write a list of five moments in your day when you unintentionally, effortlessly felt good. These moments, no matter how small, can then help you narrow down what elements of your life are bringing you joy. Then, you can seek out those kind of moments when you’re feeling down again.

So, I’ve given you my strategies- now what are yours? How do you combat a bad day?

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