Let’s get real for a second. Winter is hard. I live in Idaho, and moved here from California. It’s been a pretty big adjustment, especially the winter. In the part of California I grew up in, winters are very moderate. With very few exceptions, it’s unheard of for it to get cold enough for snow.
Here in Idaho…it’s not rare to find ourselves in negative degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s too cold and too dry for it to snow! (I never knew that was even possible!) Cold enough where you take a deep breath of the fresh air, and find yourself with frozen nose hairs. Yikes.
Winter is hard for me. I feel like I’m stuck inside the house, and I’m so incredibly tired all the time. I just feel “off”.
I’ve written before about postpartum depression, and I want to address another mood disorder. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, and many people refer to it as the winter blues. You feel normal during most the year, but when we get to colder weather and shorter days, you find yourself feeling tired, as well as a litany of other symptoms that go along with depression.
Here are my tips as a mental health professional (as well as from my personal experience) to survive seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues! I’m not a doctor, and if you are concerned about your mental health please schedule an appointment with your provider! This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
1. Limit TV
Don’t get me wrong, I love binging Netflix. It’s nice every now and again to waste time and give yourself a break from life. If you start to sit for too long watching a mindless show, you’re going to start to feel tired and possibly depressed. Set limits for yourself, whether they be time limits, a certain amount of episodes, etc.
I also encourage you to only sit and watch if you are enjoying and actually watching what is in front of you. Don’t just watch something because it is on.
2. Open your curtains
If you have windows, let in the natural light! Even when it’s cloudy the natural light will make you feel better. It will remind you that you aren’t alone in this winter, and the outside world still exists.
3. Buy a Happy Light
I wouldn’t tell you to buy it if I didn’t think it was awesome. So buy a Happy Light! Every morning when I get to work I turn on my light and bask in the loveliness of it. I generally don’t have any appointments scheduled first thing in my work day, so I can use it with out worrying about bothering anyone. It works better for me to use it at work because I find myself sitting in one place much more at work than at home. ‘Tis the life of a toddler mom, am I right?
At work, I don’t have any windows in my office. In my role as a counselor, I spend most of my workday in this windowless room. I love my job, but spending that much time with out natural light can take it’s toll. The happy light fixes that problem for me. Get one for yourself in the link below!
4. Start a Vitamin D Supplement
This is another way to combat the lack of sunlight, and help your body make up getting less vitamin D naturally. Just take it at the same time as your daily vitamins so you don’t have to make much effort to remember.
Physical activity does wonders for mental health. Those endorphins that you get from exercising make you feel so much better. Find a way to fit it into your busy schedule!
I go to the gym every morning before work to give myself an extra boost. I’m able to drop my son off a little early on the days he goes to daycare, and that works well for me.
Exercising at the same time everyday is much better than having an inner struggle everyday on when you are going to exercise, or if you are going to exercise. Just pick a time, stick with it, and it will become habit!
6. Do something creative
It doesn’t need to be a huge thing, it can be as simple as writing in your journal or drawing a picture. And you don’t need to do an entire project or activity from start to finish, you can totally just do one portion and do more tomorrow! Find a creative activity to give yourself an outlet!
I feel so much better when I do something creative. Whether it’s writing on the blog, doing a craft, or even busting out the sewing machine, I feel so much better if I do at least one creative activity in a day.
7. Stop the isolation
I love being a hermit and staying inside my house. However, if I don’t leave at least once a day or have some human contact (from other adults) I start to feel really terrible. Try to have at least one outing during the day, have a friend come over for lunch, or call a loved one.
8. Find a Winter Hobby
My husband is one of those weirdos who loves winter. Why does he love it so much, you might ask? He loves winter activities. Even though we haven’t had time to do many winter activities for the past few years with how crazy life has been, he still thinks of winter as a positive time because of those fun things you can only do when it gets cold and snowy.
Some ideas include snowboarding, sledding, building a snowman, driving to look at snow covered trees, and throwing boiling water up in the air and watching it freeze (very carefully please!). Having activities to look forward to that can only be done in the winter can change your whole mindset from dread to excitement.
9. Find the beauty in Winter
Even though winter is cold, there is beauty to be found. Freezing fog comes through in Idaho and gives the trees a beautiful and almost mystical appearance. Snow covering the roof of my house makes it look so cozy. Christmas lights covered in snow is one of the most beautiful things I’ve every seen. Snow muffles everything and makes it quiet.
If you don’t have snow, get creative in looking for the quiet beauty of winter. As someone who adores people individually but can’t stand crowds, I personally think its beautiful that there is basically no one outside in the winter.
10. Look for the positive
There are so many unexpected benefits of winter. You don’t have to shave your legs very often. You don’t have to mow the lawn. You don’t need to feel obligated to drag the kids out for an outing because there are hardly any places to take them. You have a built-in excuse to be a hermit for a little while. There are less people out if you choose to brave the cold and go for a run. Shorter daylight hours make it easier to put the kids to bed. Find the positive in your life, and focus on it.
How do you fight the winter blues? Let me know in the comments below!