By Whitney Blakeslee
Chilly weather, gloomy skies, and early evening darkness arrive every winter and leave many of us feeling a bit “blah.” What can we do to beat these wintertime blues? Whenever you feel winter is weighing you down, a mental health day is in order! Take a day off work but leave your child with a sitter, or trade childcare duties with a friend. Even two hours of true self-care can do wonders for your mood.
The weather outside may be terrible, but inside the house is cozy. Take a day to enjoy all things warm and comforting. Start out with a nice hot shower, then slip into comfortable clothing. Grab a warm drink such as cocoa, tea, or coffee, and curl up with a soft blanket. Read, journal, watch a favorite movie, or my favorite — enjoy a much-needed nap. Make space to do whatever makes you feel your best. *Insiders tip: As alluring as it is to scroll through social media for hours on end, that probably doesn’t fill up your tank like other options.
All rested up from some relaxing time? Wonderful. If the weather cooperates, bundle up and enjoy fresh air with a walk. You may be surprised at how enjoyable the cold air feels, as long as you are adequately dressed. If an outdoor walk isn’t possible, head to your local rec center for a quick walk on the treadmill or swim in the pool. A mall can be a great option, too, for walking laps indoors! If getting out isn’t possible, get on your feet exactly where you are. There are plenty of free online workout videos to help you move. Or, you can put on your favorite music and dance around the house. Being physically active helps get the blood flowing and releases those feel-good endorphins.
Look for the Positive
Yes, it is cold and dark outside. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Choose to feel inspired by the wintery scene, rather than letting it bring you down. Remember the beauty of snow and ice as it falls. The nights are long and peaceful, which gives our bodies and minds a push towards additional rest and relaxation. Just as animals and plants hunker down for the season, so can we use winter as a time of quiet reflection to recharge and prepare for warmer days ahead.
Dealing with S.A.D
Does it feel like more than a passing gloomy mood? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is “a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.” Some potential treatments include: light therapy, vitamin D, mediation, and/or therapy. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for ideas and support!
Make it a Priority
Winter comes around every year, reminding us to retreat within. As we snuggle beneath blankets to escape the cold, we need to nurture our bodies and minds. Do things that you enjoy, things that will lift your spirits, and honor your bodies. When we make time for these self-care routines and mental-health days, the long winters become a lot more bearable.
What are your favorite ways to uplift your mood during the winter?
Whitney is a personal trainer and habits coach in Denver. She spends her days outside with her toddler playing in the dirt and watching too many episodes of The Office after bedtime.
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