Let's face it. This time of the year is tough.
I was going to say that this time of the year CAN be tough but let's just call it what it is.
The days are ridiculously short, it's freaking cold, and the big one for me.... the constant gray sky. Oofta. Sunshine and spring, I'm already thinking about you.
Now, I'm all for living in the moment and appreciating the seasons and all the things I love to write about, but I too find myself in a funk this time of the year. I stay in bed just a liiiiittle bit longer. I'm not as excited to go out to social events. I rarely leave the house unless I have to.
I used to think it was just a feeling I would get in the late fall/winter and would pass when the sun came out again, but then I learned that seasonal depression and the winter blues are a thing. A real thing. There was a reason I was feeling so gloomy... and yes, it had something to do with the gloomy weather.
But, you know I'm all about an intentional life and I didn't want this winter to pass me by. I wanted to show up to it with the same enthusiasm I have in June. This year, I'm ready for the winter blues and I wanted to share some ideas to keep your spirits up this winter season too.
Plus, I had this realization. The late fall/winter season in my book is at least 5 months (November-March). That's almost HALF A YEAR!!! Winter might look different than when it's 85 and sunny but that's 5 whole months to do some really big things. Keep that in mind as you read more!
WHAT IS SEASONAL DEPRESSION
The official name for it is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and 1-2% of people in the U.S. suffer from it. Even more common is what some call the "winter blues" that affects 1 in 10 Americans (but if I'm making a guess for Michiganders it's a lot closer to 10 out of 10) generally in the late fall and winter months. SAD is most common in people who live in places above or below 30 degrees latitude north or south (HelpGuide) aka Northern Michigan. SAD can impact your mood, energy, sleep, and appetite.
Hold up, did you read that? There is a reason you want to sleep more, crave "homey foods" aka starches and sugars, and don't feel like leaving the house. You're not just in a rut, it's the weather! It's a real thing! I mean, you might be in a rut, but you can take steps to get out of it!
Before I share 9 ideas that will help you fight the winter blues I want to say this. GET THE HELP YOU NEED! Recognize if your change in mood/happiness/energy etc, is something you can fix on your own or if you need professional help. Talking to a therapist is something you should consider to help you understand how you're feeling and take the right steps needed for you.
Ok, ready, let's dive in!
9 IDEAS TO HELP YOU BEAT THE WINTER BLUES
1. LIGHT UP YOUR WORLD
Or at least your days. The days are SHORT this time of the year. And if you're in a place like Northern Michigan the sky is extra gray. Using a "happy light" can help boost your mood and increase your energy. There's nothing special you have to do, it's just about having the light on next to you. 20-30 minutes of light therapy is all it takes to give you a boost.
If you spend a lot of time at a desk, a great place to put this light is in your office space but your bedroom, morning meditation spot, or wherever you find yourself spending large chunks of time works too. Here is one on Amazon for $40. Here's another one on Amazon for $80.
2. FIND A HOBBY
Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and step awwaayyyy from your computer. I challenge you to use your hands and your brain and dive into a hobby this winter season. Remember, 5 months people...that's almost half a year to learn something new or get back to the thing you love! Crocheting, painting, carving, baking, learning a new language, candle making, calligraphy, beer brewing, or whatever the heck comes to mind. If you've been wanting to try something, consider this winter season the time you'll actually do it. I wrote a blog post about the importance of hobbies and 43 ideas that you can read here!
3. SCHEDULE THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
We all know how exciting it is to have an event circled on the calendar. Find something fun happening in your area and put it on your calendar! It's so darn easy to just stay home curled up on the couch when it gets cold. Having an event on your calendar each week will give you something to look forward to and get you out of the house. Invite a friend to join you too! A newly released movie, live music at the local bar, trivia, a game night with friends. Schedule something and make it happen. If you're near Petoskey, I keep an eye on the different classes happening at Gather or Crooked Tree Arts Center.
4. JOIN A WEEKLY GROUP
Similar to #3 but more of a routine, find an event or group that gets together weekly and make it a priority to show up. It will give you something to look forward to and a chance to meet new people. I have a blast playing volleyball every Tuesday and pickleball every Thursday. You'll be surprised when you start looking, at the different opportunities in your area. Dancing, mahjong, group trivia, yoga, the list goes on for us here in Petoskey. Annnnnd if you don't see a group you'd like to be a part of....create it! Invite friends over for a weekly game night, meet up to go for a weekly snow hike, go for coffee every Tuesday, whatever you're looking for, you can go create!
5. MOVE YOUR BODY!
Winter bod or bust! And I don't mean the one that is prepping for a full day of eating on Thanksgiving. Exercise is a great way to increase energy levels and boost your mood. And if you're like me you feel like you accomplished something big for the day.
Joining a gym is a great way to get out of the house and around other people. There are also PLENTY of at-home programs out there. Here is a 20 minute, no equipment needed workout I absolutely LOVE. I generally do this workout with 5 minutes of abs at the end instead of stretching, for a total of 24 minutes.
6. EAT HEALTHY
Along with #5, eating healthy can make an impact on how you feel and your energy levels this winter season. I know how easy it is to eat alllll the pasta and potatoes (really, you can trust me on this) but eating healthy will make a big difference. We loooovvveee making crockpot freezer meals, especially this time of the year. They help us stay on track with our eating goals and are so simple. Here is a blog post I did about crockpot freezer meals. Also, a blog post about my favorite vegetarian recipes.
7. CREATE A WINTER MANTRA
Your thoughts become things. Think about that one. What you think about most, is what your life becomes. I want to share 2 ideas with you here.
1.Creating a personal mantra for the winter season can help you focus on what you want to become. Even when you don't feel like not, repeating a mantra daily can help you reset for the day.
There is no right or wrong mantras. Check out this article to read more about creating your own. Sit for 20 minutes writing down your biggest goals, feelings, and ideas for the winter season. Spend some time coming up with a declarative statement, like it's already happened. For example, if health is a focus, try something like “I am healthy and happy because I move my body every day.” When you say it, you start to believe, and you're more likely to do it.
2. Come up with a word (or a few words) for your year. Take some time and think about what you want your year to be about and come up with one word that will help you achieve that thing. My 2019 word is Present. I wanted to focus on being more present and in the moment this year. You can read all about picking a word for your year in this blog post I wrote.
8. GET OUTSIDE
Make it a goal to spend 5-10 minutes outside everyday. Even when you don't feel like it, spending intentional time outside can boost your mood. Breathe in the cold air, see the leaves blowing across the road or the snow falling from the trees, and listen to the world all around you.
I'm a cold body through and through and have been known to get goosebumps when I stand in the shade in July, but I once heard "There's no such thing as too cold, just not having the right gear." Sometimes it's a pain but make sure you bundle yourself up and get out and enjoy this beautiful world we live in.
9. PLAN A VACATION....OR EVEN BETTER, A STAYCATION!
Plan yourself a vacation to beat the winter blues. I recommend a place that's warm and has lots of sunshine, but heck, you go wherever you'll feel rejuvenated and give you some oomph to make it through the season.
Another great option is to treat yourself to a staycation. Rent a room or book an Airbnb and explore your own home. Pretend like you're someone visiting for the first time, whatever you would suggest for them to do, go and do that! We're already making plans to explore a few places around us. High on the list is a winter stay on Mackinac Island!
BONUS!: TREAT YOURSELF
Make your home space comfy. We call it chucky. A lot of people call it hyggee. Whatever it takes to help you relax and enjoy the place you spend a lot of time. Buy yourself flowers, taking care of a plant is fun, cozy socks too, a blanket that you love, a candle, a new book....treat yourself. Loving your home and being excited about spending time there will make the time you're spending there exciting.
There you are my friend! 9 tips to help you beat the winter blues. I've already been talking about them with some friends because it's that time of the year again. They're real and they're tough but being intentional and prepared can help make this season an easier one.
As always, thanks for being here.
*Disclaimer: I use affiliate links in this blog post which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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