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Mental Health

A Proactive Approach to the Winter Blues

It’s April and we’re getting ever closer to winter. While there are parts of winter I love… electric blankets, winter clothes and winter food, but I’m not really that fond of winter. It’s the cold, I’m more of a hot house flower than lover of cool temperatures. I most definitely suffer from the Winter Blues

The Winter Blues are a very real thing, as the days get shorter and nights get colder some of us tend to suffer from mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy. So I thought I’d best be proactive and look for ways we can all stay happy and awesome over the winter months.

Exercise

Exercise as an answer is almost hard to avoid, it seems to be the answer for a lot of questions, it’s not only great for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. Exercise as you probably know is ideal for relieving the stress, and the high from exercising can last for hours. If you can drag yourself out of bed to exercise in the morning, it will leave you with more energy for the rest of the day. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those magical “feel good chemicals” that improve your mood. So grab yourself a wooly hat, some thermals and get moving.

Get Some Sun

Most people know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D; and that it helps improve our mood. In winter the days are shorter, darker and of course much much colder, and because of this we tend spend less time outdoors. A lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed—without knowing why! Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outside during winter even if you have to wrap up warm to do so.  Don’t let the colder weather leave you housebound. Watch for a gap in the rain showers and zip outside for a quick dose of fresh air and Vitamin D.

Stick to your Resolutions

It seems obvious, but healthy behaviours like the ones we often resolve to stick to at New Years, are of course linked to having fewer “blue” days. Those who make a concerted effort to exercise and eat better (and not smoke etc.) generally have fewer depressed days than those less healthy people. If you’re like me, and now that’s it’s April those brilliant plans you made around December 31st are possibly starting to wane. Refocusing on your goals will give you that all important sense of purpose and achievement. There’s no reason you can’t try again, the start of a new season is a good time to get into a new routine.

Avoid Binge Drinking

It may seem like the only option in winter is to stay indoors with a nice glass of wine, but it’s common knowledge that alcohol is a depressant, and rather than lifting your mood, it only makes it worse. Avoid alcohol when you are already feeling blue.

Moderate drinking is fine for most people, but binge drinking if you’re feeling blue isn’t a healthy choice and can leave you feeling sick, depressed, and that won’t help with the first three points. Binge drinking, especially in winter, will leave you feeling even more tired later which will have a knock on affect and potentially make a blue mood even worse.

Stay Social

Don’t lock yourself away, and scuttle between work and home just because the weather isn’t great. Make plans for the winter season and make sure you’ve got something to look forward too. Knowing you won’t be  stuck at home for weekends on end will be a comforting thought. Never under estimate the power of catching up with good friends and family.

Quick ideas:

  • Catch up with friends over coffee.
  • Plan indoor activities like bowling, laser tag or the movies.
  • Day trips out of town… my personal fav is the Hot Pools!
  • Pot Luck Dinner with friends.
  • Mid-Winter picnic… rug up, grab some candles and have a chilly winter evening picnic
  • A cheese fest… good cheese, cheesy music, cheesy movie! All cheese.
  • Challenge your friends to a lip sync battle… What’s a Lip Sync Battle? See Anne Hathaway’s epic battle here
  • Start a book club
  • When it’s sunny, make a break for it and get outdoors with friends or family… even if just for a walk.

Relax!

Work, family, friends, appointments, meetings and household chores, we’re all busy people and even if you enjoy being busy, everyone needs some down time. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. Try to spend a few minutes each day doing nothing! Read a book or magazine, sleep in on the weekend, go to bed early or maybe try meditation or yoga. Discover what you find relaxing and make time for it.

Relaxation, especially in the form of something like yoga, can alleviate stress and leave you with a calm energy. Mental exercises like meditation and positive thinking will definitely help keep depression and winter blues at bay.

Embrace the Season

Instead of always avoiding the cold find ways to embrace the winter season and look for the best and beauty it has to offer! If sports your thing try taking up a winter sport! Or appreciate winter for it’s unique beauty and take up photography. Enjoy winter opportunities while they last—after all, they’re only here a few months per year. Staying active will increase your energy and seeing winter in a positive light, (with all the great activities on offer) will keep your spirits high.

I’m 100% determined not to get the blues this winter… so I’ve bought a cute pair of mittens and a new scarf. Come at me winter!

Feel free to share your tips for beating the winter blues.

Dee

xoxo

Join the discussion

  1. Tyne

    The good thing about exercise and winter is that you warm up to a reasonable temperature rather than over heating. I always think that it is easier to exercise in winter; and it may be coincidence but it seems if you exercise right through winter you don’t get most of the flues and weight gain.

  2. Pingback: Help… I’ve lost my creativity | DeeThomson.com

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