I’ve struggled with varying degrees of winter blues since I was little. In elementary school, I remember feeling sad and crying in the winter for now reason, and after I moved out of my parents’ house to be a grown-up, winter meant crazy depression, anxiety, and emotional eating. Lots and lots of emotional eating.
I’ve learned that there’s a space in between completely dropping into that dark place and wasting my energy fighting through it. Winter is my time to slow way down and rearrange my priorities.
Last winter I fought it and denied it. I also whined about it. The winter before that, I let it completely steamroll me. So far this year, I’ve settled into that in-between space pretty nicely and I’ve learned a few things that seem to be working well so far.
My new favorite winter survival tips, in no particular order:
- Eat lots of colors and citrus fruits. Something about an orange or some spicy red onion in my salad really perks up my mood. Also, eating salad is good. I tend to crave heavy, carby, fatty foods that don’t make me feel good if I eat them too much, but eating wintery salads keeps me in touch with my body’s signals for hunger, fullness, and what I need to eat. Or get back in touch with those signals.
- Happy music-keeps my energy and mood up. Christmas music is great, but I also have a happy playlist on my iPod that keeps me going. I also love calming, uplifting music like Krishna Das. It also gets me in the mood to do yoga, which is always a good thing. On the flip side, watch out for depressing music. Sometimes we tend to “mood match” with music, but that doesn’t help a gloomy mood.
- Keep busy, but relax too. I’ve noticed there are two sides to winter blues: gloomy moods and low energy. Staying busy helps the gloomy part, but getting enough rest is the best way to handle the fatigue. If I’m gloomy and tired, then a hot bath and early bedtime might be the best thing I can do. If I just need a mood boost but have a little steam left, I put on fun music and scrub the floor. Nothing gets me off the couch like Gangnam Style. That song is my secret happy mood weapon. Yes, it is on my happy playlist.
- I practice positive affirmations and gratitude every day, usually on my walk to work.
- Take vitamin D, drink my raw milk. Gotta get those nutrients.
- Don’t guilt trip myself for not eating or exercising perfectly, or for being “lazy” (i.e. needing to rest).
- Enjoy the contrast and perks of winter: Layering, hearty soups, herbal tea, cozy blankets and good books, hot baths, snow days. I’ll miss them when it’s 95 degrees outside and all I can stand to eat is watermelon.
- Pamper myself by taking a hot bath as soon as I get home from work. That warms me up and calms me down, without fail. Until I get the gas bill.
- Take a walk in the middle of the day when the sun is highest, if I can. If not, I don’t feel bad. Do what you can.
Thought this is the darkest time of the year, I’m happy to report that I’m actually doing ok. Sure, my energy is lagging and I have some gloomy days, but overall I’m enjoying myself. Above all, I found that the most important thing is to make peace with the fact that I’m not as productive this time of year. I don’t create as much, my homemaking duties tend to get neglected, but that’s ok.
It’s about enjoying life, not fighting.