January is my arch-nemesis. With the exception of the four years I lived in sunny Arizona, the other 25 years of my life I have gotten seasonal depression in January (on the flipside, I got seasonal depression in September in Arizona.) It’s never been so bad that I needed medication or therapy. And this post is not about treating serious cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Simply put, I get the ‘winter blues.’
The winter blues consist of being moody and sluggish…not wanting to do much. Also I tend to get depression from the lack of social interaction and sunshine. And depression can swallow you up, until you can’t even think about anything else but how miserable you feel. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to beat the winter blues.
1. Let the Light In: Natural light is a big deal for me. We’ve been shopping around for homes and I must have a house that is North, West, or East facing. If the front faces the south, that means the majority of the sunlight will come to the front of the house, where not much living is done. Help let the natural light come in your house by opening up those curtains and blinds! Consider even switching out dark curtains with light ones because dark curtains darken up spaces so much more than you’d think.
2. Exercise: Exercise is always a great pick-me-up. It’s much harder to be motivated to work out in the cold winter months, but it is so worth it. If you’re not up to a full on sprint, bundle up and take a walk outside. The sunlight will help lift your spirits.
3. Accomplish one thing each day: If you have a long to-do list (which consists of boring things like taxes), but you don’t want to do any of it, just set a goal to do one thing on your list each day. Setting yourself up for success is a much better way to be happy than setting yourself up to being overwhelmed and feeling like a failure.
4. Get Outside: It might be cold and snowy, but there will be sunny days too. Take advantage of the sunny ones and get outside for a little while. Even if that just means sweeping the garage or standing on the back porch for five minutes. Either way, the fresh air will feel good.
5. Stay Healthy: This is a hard one, and speaking as someone who has been sick for literally over a month, it’s not always within your control. But being sick defeats everything and it’s hard not to be frustrated that you can’t get anything done because you feel lousy. So get your flu shots, drink lots of water, eat your veggies, wash your hands, use essential oils, etc. And rest if you can when you feel something coming on!
6. Socialize: The best cure for loneliness is to be around other people. More often than not, its going to have to be you that makes the effort to see your friends. Arrange a play group or a girls night out with one or more friends. If you don’t have the time or energy for that, just write someone an email. They will usually write back and make you feel a little less lonely. Ironically, the worst cure for loneliness is social media. It usually ends up making you feel like everyone else is having a blast without you.
7. Make Something: If you are sick of sitting in the house but don’t have many other options due to the cold or budget or whatever, make your house a prettier place to be! There are ways to make your house pretty without spending any money. Chances are, you probably have stuff leftover from other projects to make something new. Paint a wall a new color, rearrange furniture, work on a quilt. Then be proud of what you made.
8. Do Service: Depression tends to get me the worst when I start dwelling on all the ‘sad’ aspects of my life. It’s always helpful to get out of your own head for awhile and help someone else. And this doesn’t mean go clean out their pantry or something…service can be as simple as visiting someone and listening to them. Or making cookies and taking them to a neighbor.
9. Organize: Winter is the best time to organize, since you are stuck in the house anyway. My number one cause of frustration is being disorganized. Being disorganized leads to not being able to find things, which makes me late for stuff, which makes me embarrassed. Make a list of your top ten spots in your house that really need to be organized. Work on one area each week and make a better system so that area stays organized. By the time you reach the end of your list, winter should be over!
10. Spend quality time with your Significant Other: The new year is always busy–trying to fit in those extra resolutions, all the things that were put off til’ after Christmas. Date night tends to get put on the back burner. But even if all you do is watch TV every night, you can still do it together. Turn off your computer, put away your phone or tablet, and just focus on your spouse and the movie. Better year, get a babysitter and go out! You will be amazed at how invigorated you feel after having a great conversation with another adult.
11. Bring Nature Indoors: We miss the green of the summer, the flowers of the spring. It all seems like a distant memory and after months of looking at dead grass and leafless trees, I can’t even remember what it was like before the winter. This is a great time to buy fresh cut flowers or a new houseplant and freshen up your house. It helps clear the air, too.
12. Eat right: I always crave comfort foods like carbey-anything and baked goods. But start each day with a green smoothie and have healthy warm dinners at night. Eating a healthy balanced diet will help regulate the seratonin levels in your body and help you feel better all over. Plus it will help fight off any lurking germs that might want to get you sick!