Winter blues Getting You Down? By Rachael Hite
The months after the holiday season often feel empty, as if winter hit its peak at the new year. Seeing no end to cold weather, cabin fever and seasonal illnesses can get anyone down.
It’s important this time of year to take good care of yourself, so you can stay healthy, happy and motivated. To avoid feeling trapped, overwhelmed and chaotic — and spreading negative vibes with a bad attitude — use these tips to keep your spirit up all winter long.
1. Reset on your own terms
Realign your expectations. This one is super simple. Keep in mind that the new year is not a cure-all for all of your problems. Be optimistic, and soak up the magic of a fresh start, but also understand that stress and bad things happen in all seasons.
It’s too much pressure on yourself and those around you to be perfect around this time of year. People battle grief, financial burdens and major illnesses year-round.
Take a breath and remember to practice awareness outside your personal desire to keep up with everyone else. This time of year is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Make sure you get sunshine and fresh air
Science! It’s an amazing thing. Take any opportunity you can get to be outside and recharge your battery. Need an excuse to go get some sunshine? Find an opportunity to volunteer outdoors.
Pick up trash, walk some shelter dogs, shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Instead of coffee dates, set up walking breaks. Pioneer coordinating your office’s first walking office meeting at a local park.
Half a million people in the United States have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — which is just as serious as other forms of depression — and 10-20 percent of people deal with a less severe case of the winter blues, says the Cleveland Clinic.
3. Get some things off your plate
What obligations can you say no to? What is wrong with prioritizing downtime to rest and restore? Events stack up quickly, so pick your favorites, and then politely decline the rest.
Feeling guilty? Schedule some coffee or lunch dates in February when things are less hectic. Celebrate the fact that you are well-loved and have been invited to so many gatherings, but remember to not overwhelm yourself with too many activities.
4. Take a long winter nap
Your body and mind will thank you! The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping naps short (under 20 minutes,) before 3 p.m. (to avoid interrupting night sleep) and in a quiet dark place without distractions.
5. Go on a social media diet
Spending too much time on social media is literally draining your internal battery, not just your cell phone battery life. Facebook has been part of many of our lives for well over a decade.
You have to ask yourself how much time are you willing to give to these spaces. Research has been conducted to prove that spending endless hours scrolling is terrible for your emotional well-being.
The use of social media has been shown to correlate with loneliness, with heavy users being twice as likely to report social isolation.
Make sure that you are using social media in monitored doses. Social media should not be filling up major gaps of downtime. If you are feeling especially blue this winter, make a commitment to backing away from social, and start journaling each day to see if you notice a difference in your mood after a few weeks.
Taking good care of yourself is something that you have to work on each day. Do not wait until you are so emotionally exhausted and sick that you are down for long periods of time. It is estimated that 16.2 Americans are suffering from depression. Please take a moment to check on your co-workers, friends and family to make sure they are hanging in there.
Rain will always be in the forecast at some point in our futures, but we can always carry an umbrella of kindness to weather the storms of life together.