Around this time every year I start getting a little antsy. The cold was fun for a little while but it’s almost the middle of March and I’m ready for sunlight and warmth. Also, let’s face it, by this time, I’ve gotten a little tired of rotating the same items in my winter wardrobe. I’m ready for some spring dresses and blouses to help me beat the winter blues:-)
Wardrobe aside, I really do find myself getting a case of the winter blues right around the end of February. The reduced sunlight and cold winter weather means more time spent indoors. On a more technical note, it also means dropped serotonin levels, and a disruption in melatonin levels. In plain English, there’s just something about being in dark, gloomy skies that makes us feel…well…sad.
If you’ve been reading The Elegant Earthling for a while, then you probably know that I live in California and you probably want to kill me by now! I don’t blame you. I remember living in Ohio less than a year ago. Not only did I long for the warmth and brightness of the sun, but I was also so irritated at the production that had to take place each time I wanted to go outside. The double pants, the thermal, the sweater, the thick socks, the scarf…by the time I got to the jacket and shoes, I was so irritable that I didn’t even want to go out.
I’m sure I am not the only one that feels this way. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real and even if you don’t quite have it that extreme, I’m sure you could benefit from some tips to beat the winter blues. So read on and please add to the comments if you have more suggestions!
As much as you want to hibernate during this final winter stretch, it’s ever more important to get out and socialize. If you really don’t feel like battling the cold, invite some friends over for appetizers and drinks or a game night. If meeting face-to-face isn’t an option, pick up the phone and get some talk time in with your loved ones. Even signing up for a group exercise class instead of gymming it up alone can make a huge difference in your happiness levels.
Get some light in your day
Even though it may be cloudy, it’s good to get outside and just breathe the fresh air for a change. Take a short walk around the block on your lunch break or take a walk to grab a coffee. The cold air may sting at first but I promise it will wake up your senses and make you feel better by the time you return.
When you are indoors, turn on some lights! Sure, natural light is always best, but when you don’t have much of it as a result of cloudy skies, turning on the lights in the house will help you forget about the gloominess that is outdoors and help brighten up your mood. Some people swear by light therapy lamps. I much prefer to sit close to a window and read a book. Whatever way you can sneak in some extra light exposure, do it!
SHOP THE LOOK
Just like getting social, getting moving may be the last thing you want to think about when you are sulking in your winter misery! But it has been proven time and time again that exercise boosts your mood by boosting your endorphins. You don’t have to have an all out sweat session. A short walk, a dance party in your living room, or a series of body strength exercises like pushups, squats and lunges will likely be enough. Just aim to get two 10-minute sessions per day. If you need some motivation to get off your butt and exercise, read this post.
Plan a vacation somewhere warmer
I remember reading somewhere that a person needs three things to be happy: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. Don’t underestimate the power of the third one. Haven’t you ever noticed that the week seems to go by more pleasantly when you have something fun planned for the weekend? In the same way, your month will be much happier if you have a sunny vacation planned for the end of it.
Fill your day with what makes you happy
When the weather is gloomy outside, it’s important to take care of yourself inside. Think about what truly makes you happy. I’m not talking long term; I’m talking right now. What lifts your mood? What shifts your energy and lifts your spirit?
For me, it’s listening to music that brings me back to summer…you know, the kind you would hear at a beach bar on the Greek islands. I try to listen to it as much as I can…when I’m driving, while I’m getting ready in the morning, when I’m cooking dinner at night.
What is it for you? It might be that you need more time dedicated to yourself – a pampering session at home, a trip to the spa or salon. Maybe it’s girl time or family time. Maybe it’s just getting more sleep. Whatever it is, this is the time to put aside the shoulds and have-to’s in life and do more of what makes you happy!