Beating the Winter Blues
Thoughts of winter getting you down? Authors Teri Wilson and Kristina Knight talk about getting outside, getting motivated and banishing the winter blues...
I know what you’re thinking. Winter? It’s barely Fall (or as we call it here in the United States, Pumpkin Spice Latte Season.) But winter is right around the corner, and while we’re overjoyed that it’s finally cool enough outside to rock boots and a cardigan, our delight won’t last forever. Pretty soon we’ll be huddled beneath our duvets Bridget Jones-style, wallowing in the winter blues.
Because, yes. The winter blues are an actual, scientific thing.
Shorter daylight hours, coupled with more time spent indoors, can have a definite negative affect on your mood. It can leave you feeling sluggish, distracted and depressed. No one needs that, especially a writer on a deadline.
So here are a few tips to keep you sunny and bright, even when you’re snowbound:
In the immortal words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
Not that we think you’re contemplating shooting your husband or significant other, but you get the picture! Exercise makes you feel good. The endorphins released when you engage in even moderate exercise do indeed flood your body with positive feelings. For years now, studies have shown that exercise is an effective way to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk on the treadmill or, even better, an outdoor walk around the neighborhood. Which leads us to #2 on our list…
Get some new light bulbs
We get less sunlight in the wintertime. This difference is greater in some parts of the world than others, but wherever you are, you’re definitely seeing less daylight. Less light means less vitamin D, which is important in combating depression. It also means changes in our body’s internal clock, resulting in changes in our hormone levels and the chemicals that regulate our mood.
A common treatment for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (the clinical diagnosis for winter blues) is to spend time beside a light box containing special fluorescent tubes or use of a dawn simulator. A more practical, less expensive way to implement light therapy at home is to invest in natural spectrum light bulbs. These can usually be found at home improvement stores or lighting retailers.
Now is the time to get yourself to a day spa. Just because your toes are hidden in thick socks all winter doesn’t mean you should skip the pedicure. Spa treatments aren’t about looking good, they’re about relaxing your body and mind. If your afternoon at the spa includes a massage, you can add increased blood flow to the list of benefits. It’s a win-win.
Take a vacation
If all else fails, head to a warmer climate for a few days of sweet escape! If the beach is too far away, a weekend getaway to pretty much anywhere will do wonders to break up the monotony of the season.
It’s finally begun to cool off here, and while I am absolutely loving the crispness of the morning air, the changing colors of the leaves…I’m also dreading (just a little bit) the grey that happens in the winter months. You know what I’m talking about – dirty, gray slush and snow on the roads and sidewalks, heavy, gray clouds in the sky, and a sky that, because of the distance of the sun, seems more gray than blue most days.
All that gray? It makes me blue, and wishing for the brilliant colors of the first spring tulips or the hot blast of summer sunshine. Of course, I can’t make the calendar move any faster (it already moves fast enough, don’t you think?), but I can make the best of all that gray. Here’s how I do it.
I get outside
But, it’s too cold? Layers, my friend, layers. You don’t have to go for a five mile run or risk the treacherous winter roads on your bike. Simply taking a walk around the block will help.
Doctors believe that the fresh air – even cold, fresh air! – is key to overcoming the winter blahs, and some believe taking an hour in the middle of the day to walk outside can be as effective as light treatments that patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) use.
I bring the outside inside with me
No, I don’t have a big sun room, but I do have large, picture windows in both our living room (east facing) and family room (west facing). So, I take some time in the morning to sit at the window and soak up a little sun as it comes in the windows. And, in the winter, you’ll find me writing more in the family room, near the picture window, so I can get a bit more Vitamin D.
Keeping warm is a big thing for those of us affected by colder weather. So, I layer tees and vests, leggings, socks…and my favorite slippers and boots are never far away.
I’ve found that when I keep myself warm in the winter months, I’m less likely to feel tired or overworked. Another tip with keeping warm – because winds can be crazy wicked up here! – is to keep a light blanket nearby. Then, if my feet get cold despite the layers, I can curl up for a bit.
I focus on what I’m eating
Most of us are tempted to cheat on our diets during the winter months. All that layering is a good way to hide a few extra pounds, right? But sticking to a healthy diet – drinking plenty of water, boosting the veggie intake, and reducing the empty calories – is as important during layering weather as it is in bikini weather. That’s because a healthy diet feeds our bodies, giving us more energy, and helping us feel less tired – and less blah about those gray skies – than if we’re carbo-loading all the time.
How does winter affect you? Have you any special tips on beating the winter blues? Let us know on social media using the hastag #lightinthedark. We'd love to hear from you!