Were you surprised to see the ground covered with snow on Monday night? I was! Except for that freak snowstorm in October, we’ve gotten off easily this year. Maybe this week’s dusting of snow is a good reminder—we ARE in wintertime.
Many people tell me their mood plummets in winter. We can feel sluggish; get lethargic and, have less spark during these cold dark days between January and March. We might find ourselves less getting into more arguments, feeling frustrated, getting annoyed more easily, or not able to accomplish things. Our emotional well-being can suffer in winter. In addition, colds and flu run rampant making everything harder.
Think about it.
- We have less light and sunshine for months at a time
- We stay inside and get less fresh air
- We drink less water
- We do fewer things and have fewer social interactions
If you live with others, especially children, multiply the effects!
What about you? Do you get the winter blues? How does it look for you? For your family?
We do a variety of things to get our homes and cars ready for winter. Is there anything we can do to winterize ourselves emotionally? Well, just asking the question is a good start.
Of course, everyone is different. So, first off, check in with yourself and your family members.
If you get through winter just fine with no real differences emotionally from summer, then you’re doing fine! Enjoy it. But, if winter means you hunker down and struggle to get through, here are a few ideas to try.
Maximize the positives. Do things each week that perk you up. Figure it out for you. What makes you feel good? Music? Books? Movies? Time with friends? Make sure you schedule some extra time to enjoy these things. If you have a spell in winter that you notice your mood sinking lower, add some more time enjoying the things on your list. Make sure you include some positive upbeat choices.
Minimize the negatives. Figure out what is hardest about winter for you. Think about small changes that would impact these things. For example, if you stay inside during winter because you are afraid of falling on ice, get a set of cleats (like Yaktrax) and wear them. If you hunker down and spend most of your free time alone in winter, call up a friend or try out a class that interests you. Make a plan for yourself early in winter, not later. Prevention is always a good choice.
Get away if you can. Go someplace with more sunshine. Go someplace where you can enjoy being outside and more active. When you return from your trip, enlarge a few of your favorite photos to put up in rooms where you spend a lot of time. Put one up on your phone and computer. If you can’t get away, put some pictures of favorite places up anyways! What you look at matters.
Bring something living and green into your home or apartment. A green plant or a spring bulb. It might sound strange, but try growing sprouts or wheatgrass. It’s a great project for kids and super for health.
Get out with friends and laugh together.
Take advantage of sunny days. Step outside, even for a few minutes.
Look for the positive. For example, on a windy day, notice the beauty of the cloud shapes flying across the blue sky.
Spend more time being grateful for what you have rather than longing for what you don’t have. This is good advice, no matter what season!
Please note, some people, including children, can suffer from severe depression or seasonal affective disorder and need professional treatment. If you have severe or prolonged symptoms, please seek a professional evaluation.