Hello my darlings!
It’s official- Christmas is over, New Years has come and gone, spring and sunshine seem a mile off. It can be easy at this time of year to fall into “mid-winter blues” or even develop seasonal affective disorder. The days are darker, and colder, so it’s no wonder that many of us just want to curl up into a ball and sleep the time away. This has such a profound effect on mental health, it can be really hard to deal with.
I won’t lie, I never experienced any of this before this year. After all, I’ve lived in Florida, where the sun always shines and anything below 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered freezing. As you can imagine, during winter, the weather doesn’t change very much, so it didn’t have a noticeable effect on me. This year, moving to England, where the seasons dramatically impact the amount of daylight and the temperature has been a huge eye-opener. I know a lot of people struggle this time of year, so I’m sharing some ideas to help fight off the blahs that seem to strike at this time of year!
- Get outside. I cannot stress this enough! Take advantage of what little daylight there is, and get some fresh air. Go for a run and appreciate the outdoors! If you live in a city, maybe try walking some place local, rather than driving.
- Stay active. It is so tempting to stay in bed, but keeping active will not only benefit your body, but your mind as well. Do this however works best for you, whether that’s a gym, a running routine, yoga-whatever!
- Set some goals. I mentioned in my last post that I’m not a NY Resolutions person, but I believe setting goals is important. These can be as vague or specific as you like. Just giving yourself some guidance can be super helpful in staying productive.
- Get some Vitamin D. This is really, really important. Whether you chose to do this through a sun lamp (not a tanning bed), the actual sun, or supplements, this can make a huge difference.
- Add some colour to your life! It is so easy to get lost in the world of black, white and grey during winter. And really, who says it can’t be colourful? Add pops of colour to your wardrobe, your home, even your food!
- Make your bed. This is a really small thing, but makes such a difference. One, it will deter you from getting into bed during the day. Two, it makes your room look much cleaner and put together, which can help you feel less stressed.
- Declutter/organise your home. Along the same lines, when you’re feeling down, it’s nice to get things all in order. This can give you a sense of accomplishment, and makes things easier for you in the long run.
- Start a new hobby/project. Winter seems to bring an overwhelming feeling of boredom. Combat this by trying something new- take a cooking class, learn to knit, redecorate a room. The options are endless.
- Simplify. Take the opposite approach, and instead of adding, have an exercise in taking away. Simplify your home, your social life, your workouts. By taking away things that bring you anxiety, your days will be so much easier to tackle. For example, set just one goal per day, could be clearing a cupboard, doing laundry, whatever!
- Don’t compare yourself. In this digital age, with apps like Instagram, LikeToKnowIt, etc., it can be so easy to get cyber-jealousy. Every one seems to be so successful, so active, so happy. Remind yourself that most of what is on social media isn’t true to life, and what you have is good as well.
- Open the blinds! During these dark months, you need to get all the sunlight you possibly can. Open up your blinds and let the natural light flood in. Again, this little change can make a huge impact!
- Meditate/pray/study. Whatever you believe in, spend some time exploring that. If you’re new to meditation, try out an app like Headspace or Calm that guides you through it. If you are religious (no matter what kind), spend some time in prayer. Not into any of the above? That’s okay too- maybe study up on some self-improvement books and see how you can change your mindset for the positive.
- Get out of the house. This is for those of us who work from home. When the house is your base for everything, time can fly by and before you notice, you haven’t left the house in days. Pop out as often as possible, even if it’s just to grab coffee or go for a short walk.
- Drink enough water. This is so important health-wise, and we all (myself included) are guilty of not drinking enough water. If it helps, buy or make one that has tick marks by the hour. Drinking enough water can help fight bloating, and ease your digestive tract-super important after all the holiday eating!
- Get you some. Maybe it’s weird to talk about, but sex can be really important for mental health. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but having safe, responsible sex can boost your mood and lower stress levels. Not comfortable with that? That’s totally okay too! Fly solo or maybe exchange some flirty messages. Whatever floats your boat man.
- Eat the right foods. This is not, in any way, promoting starting a diet or losing weight. Believe it or not, food has a massive effect on your mood! Eat what leaves you feeling good, body and mind.
- Pamper yourself. Find time to really focus on you, and you alone. Dedicate a night to do the whole shebang- take a bath, add the bubbles, do a face & hair mask. Paint your nails, apply a fake tan, whatever you like to do. You’ll feel so relaxed and soul-nourished.
- Get away. If it’s feasible and you can afford it, a weekend away is always a good way to recharge. Sometimes, just being in a new environment is enough to rejuvenate you. If you’re in the UK, MyHotelBreak has some really great options that aren’t too far or pricey! Also, AirBnB has both accommodation and experiences available, which makes a mini vacay much easier!
- Communicate. When you’re feeling low, it’s so easy to withdraw into yourself. Try to express how you’re feeling. After all, those around you aren’t mind readers, and they can’t always tell when something’s up. Be specific about what you need, and don’t leave them in the dark.
- Do some stretches. This is not only physically beneficial, but mentally as well! Loosen up those muscles, and have a moment to yourself to just breathe it out. If you already know a great stretching routine, go for it. If not, there are loads of YouTube videos, and fitness apps that can help. I’m a big fan of the app WorkoutWomen and if you’re into yoga, I love Yoga with Adriene.
- Cry it out. Look, I don’t know why crying has such a bad rep, but sometimes you just have to get it out. Allow yourself the space and freedom to let the emotions go. Honestly, I love a good cry, and usually feel soo much better afterwards.
- Practice self-love. I know how it goes, you get down and the spiral starts. You go from being bored, to being in a full vortex of regret and self-loathing. Break the habit, my friends. I find it really helpful to figure out my triggers. Then, for every negative thought I have about myself, I think of a positive one. For example, maybe I don’t have the clearest skin right now, but you know what? My hair is looking really rad lately.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so any and all advice is just my personal opinion and is not backed by medical science. Additionally, there is a difference between winter blues and depression, the latter should be treated by a medical professional. If you are depressed, please seek professional help. The following are really helpful resources to reach out to.
- Anxiety UK – charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with anxiety.
- CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
- Samaritans -confidential support for those experiencing feelings of distress or dispair.
- More on the NHS website – if none of the above apply, there are many other resources on the NHS website.
- If you are in the USA, MentalHealth.gov is a great place to start if you are seeking help.
Whew! I know that was super, super long, so if you made it to the end, I applaud you. Mental health is so so important, and we need to be talking about it more and more! If you have any advice for beating the winter blues, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to know your tips!
As always, thanks for reading & stay golden!
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