By February, most of us are tired of winter. The overcast skies, the early sunsets, and the sometimes bitter cold takes a toll on us. For those of us in the northern climes, sunlight is in short supply, and even though the days are getting longer they don’t seem to lengthen quickly enough to keep frustration, irritation, and fatigue at bay. Add longer commute times on icy roads, snow removal issues, and the added bulk of winter clothing weighing us down, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious problems, including SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
There are many things you can do to help fight these winter blues; some are fun, some are practical, just find the one(s) that resonate with you and start feeling better.
Get enough sleep. Increased darkness means an increase in the body’s need for sleep, so now’s your chance to go to bed early, get up late, or take a nap without feeling guilty. If you worry about all the stuff you still have to do, remember: you will actually be more productive when you’ve gotten enough sleep.
Start planning your summer vacation, NOW. Planning and thinking about vacation will get your brain to start producing its feel good chemicals. That in turn, lightens your mood and puts a spring in your step.
Take a weekend getaway to somewhere sunny, nothing long or fancy just a couple days time in a warmer, sunnier climate. If money is an issue (and seriously when is it not), remember that the airlines have lots of last minute sales and so do hotels. You might even be able to find a sale on an all-inclusive getaway.
Decorate your house with a tropical flare and play some sort of upbeat island music (Hawaiian, Reggae, etc.) to raise your spirits. Or maybe Mediterranean is more your style, or African, or California surf. Whichever you prefer, bring a few of those elements into your home, find some corresponding music on itunes or pandora, and bring a little vacation to you. A little pina colada, sangria, margarita, or mai tai might add to the ambiance as well.
Pace yourself. Winter is a time of slowing down and going within. We are not meant to go at the same breakneck speed during the winter that we do in the summer. Truth be told, we’re not meant to go at a breakneck speed in the summer, either; but that’s a different post.
Let the sunshine in. On those seemingly rare sun-filled winter days, open the curtains and let the sunshine pour into your home or office; sunlight is a natural mood enhancer. As a bonus, that daytime sunshine will also help warm your home or office so the furnace won’t run as often. Just don’t forget to close those curtains again when it starts to get dark.
Get a hot stone massage or heated body wrap. Both of those will warm you to to your core which allays fatigue in your body and lightens your spirits as well.
Get tested for SAD. Seasonal affective disorder is real and it can be treated. Light box therapy is a popular and effective treatment. If you have SAD, your doctor can recommend a good light box.
Get your vitamin D levels checked. Low vitamin D levels can cause symptoms that mimic depression. Your healthcare provider can recommend a good vitamin D supplement, if your levels are low.
Read books or watch movies that are set in warm, sunny places, and imagine that you’re there too.
Stretch your imagination muscles! Pretend that you’ve just arrived home after a year in Antartica, or that you’re an Inuit from the arctic; the temperature where ever you are now is bound to be downright balmy in comparison. OR draw yourself a nice warm bath, a cooling glass of ice water with a twist of lemon (or a glass of wine), light an ocean scented candle, put on some music of your choosing, and pretend you’re lounging in a small pool on the deck of a cruise ship.
If you have a great way to cope with the long northern winter, I’d love to hear it. Please leave it in a comment below so that everyone can benefit!