As winter nears, many people are anticipating experiencing the winter blahs. The days have grown shorter and the sun often feels evasive. Windy and rainy days become second nature in the South while snow and ice become an uninvited guest in the North. The sweets that you ate during the recent months is starting to catch up to you. Your energy is low, and your sleep is disruptive. The bad news? The Winter Blues have set in. The good news? There are several things you can do to beat the winter blues.
Get outside to boost your mood
Yes, it’s cold outside. Although it may be the last thing you want to do, getting outside is actually the one thing that can help you to fight the winter blahs. Exposure to light can help boost your mood. Although daylight is ideal, even exposure to bright light can be helpful. Light Therapy has proven to help those that struggle with seasonal affective disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy could assist you.
Exercise to is a great way to beat the winter blues
Exercise is a great way to beat the winter blues. Exercise boosts your mood by increasing the endorphins in your body. Consistent training will help you work off those post-holiday pounds and provide an excuse to meet up with friends. After all, this is the time of year everyone wants to exercise! Even small amounts of exercise can help feel better by sleeping better at night. Training can also make a person feel like he/she is taking control of their personal life and headed in the right direction. Talk to your healthcare provider about starting any exercise program.
The benefit of meeting new people
Socializing may be the last thing you want to do when you are feeling blah. Just the thought of mustering up the energy to introduce yourself to others can feel overwhelming. Yet, interacting with others can provide a more positive focus and has been positively studied to longevity. It can also be a time where you can help someone else. Winter can be an ideal time to spend time volunteering at a local charity or ministry. Socialization can also mean saying a kind word to a stranger in the elevator. There can be something so freeing and renewing that comes with the opportunity of new friendships and acquaintances.
Is it too cold to sit outside? Combine two of these goals with walking outside or hiking together. We need to be in community with other people. I believe it is among life’s greatest treasures. Winter provides such a temptation to hibernate away from other people. We kid ourselves by using the weather as an excuse to avoid human interaction. However, ironically, meeting up with old and new friends tends to warm the heart and bright our moods as a way to beat the winter blues. We learn about the current happenings of our social circles, which extends our focus outward instead of inward.
Get creative about staying connected. We are part of a small group of people that meet regularly outside over a fire pit to stay connected in one another’s lives. I’ve also heard of a group of older men that have decided to gather at a local park to walk their dog together while they discuss local politics. Back porches and carports have turned into social gathering spaces
New hobbies..hmm. Why not?
Did you know that January is National Hobby Month? Hmm, I wonder why? A new hobby can help the restlessness that comes with experiencing cabin fever. Book clubs, art classes, online classes, learning a new language are a great way to pass the time during the colder months. Taking the time to work on unfinished projects may not be considered a hobby, but it can be so useful. Work projects often are never finished. Therefore, winter creates an opportunity to finish some of these projects and reduce stress. Hobbies provide a focused time of enjoyment and relieve everyday stress to increase better health and feel productive.
Travel to warmer climates
While this may not be an option for everyone, one thing that can help in the dire midst of winter is traveling warmer climates for a break. The temperatures may not be summertime, but they will be warmer than below freezing. Even just a few days away from the bitter cold can bring a sense of respite to the soul. Warmer climates remind us that more pleasant weather is just around the corner; helping us to breathe a sigh of relief that soon we can bid farewell to the winter season and welcome spring and summer.
Embrace rather than resist
Sometimes there is a victory in just trying to find the good in an undesirable situation. The cold is going to stick around for a while, so perhaps the best way to beat the winter blues is to embrace it. The stillness and quiet of a newly fallen snow can be peaceful. The chill in the air can be revitalizing. Sure enough, it requires more layers of clothing than summer, but getting outside can be just as enjoyable in the winter. Have unmet resolutions? Rather than self-criticize for eating that sweet or for sleeping instead of exercising, recommit to eating healthy at the next meal or the next opportunity. For some reason, resisting undesirable circumstances seem to require more energy than acceptance of them. What can you do embrace winter rather than resist it?
Resist negativity and find humor
Have you ever met someone that is so much fun that you just want to spend more time with them? They usually become the life of the party with a quick wit and hospitable personality. Make it your ambition to develop friendships with people that bring positivity rather than negativity. Surround yourself with others that less critical and have a healthy outlook.
Why? Because such a perspective can by contagious! It’s hard to be pessimistic when you are in the presence of someone that finds the good in life. Better yet…become that positive friend. Winter easily reveals something to complain about. Don’t fall for it! Gratitude can be found everywhere, even in frustrating circumstances. And humor often accompanies it.
If you’re struggling with the winter blahs, then getting outdoors and exercising may help boost your mood. Meeting new people and learning a new hobby can improve your lifestyle and feel more connected to others. Traveling to a warmer climate may be just the anecdote you need to remind you that spring is coming soon. And a commitment to embrace and accommodate winter’s offerings can help to chase away hassles and beat the winter blues.
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316