Call me crazy, but June 21st marks a sad day for me - it means that the days are getting shorter, and we're approaching winter. To some, this may seem totally ridiculous, but for me, as the summer days shorten, even by just a couple of minutes each day, I can't help but feel a small sense of panic and anxiety about the winter months approaching. The short, dark, and cold days simply "aren't my thing," and I often feel like my "winter self" is completely different then my "summer self." However, I really should be speaking in past-tense now, because for the second winter in a row, I haven't felt my familiar "winter blues." Last year, I finally took control of seasonal depression. I decided that I wasn't going to waste half of my year wishing that it were a different time of year, because, well, for one, I'm not prepared to move away from my friends and family to a more sun-laden part of the world, and two, I was wishing half my life away over something that I have no control over! This year in particular I haven't once wished away a day, and I feel pretty proud of myself, actually. My secret?? Well, I've adopted some tricks and techniques that get me (sanely) through the winter months, without feeling the need to to wish them away. They work incredibly well, and for those of you who suffer from mild, seasonal depression, too, I hope you can incorporate some of these tips in to your winter-routine :)
15 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
- Start "convincing" yourself of the fun winter activities and opportunities to come! This may sound silly, but you're going to have to use a little "mind-control" here. Starting at the change of the season, talk to a friend or your partner (or yourself) about all the things that you're looking forward to this winter - whether it be your favourite boots, jeans and over-sized jacket, the crispness of the air, skiing, an inside project that you've been meaning to tackle, or even how nice it will be to get a break from watering your garden and labour intensive summer chores! Try focus on something that encourages you to look forward to change of season.
- Get Outside. It's as simple as that. It's easy to get used to our indoor routines during the winter, but remember to get outside! Take special advantage of this on sunny days - close your eyes, turn your face to the sun or sky and take some cool, deep breathes. Even the simple act of filling your lungs with clean oxygen can be very uplifting for your mood.
- Invest in a SAD light. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that comes about at the change of the season, most commonly, the winter season. Yes, "winter blues" is a legitimate form of depression! Common treatment for SAD is light therapy using lamps like this one. Simply sitting in front of a SAD light can help ease feelings of depression.
- Exercise. An indoor or outdoor exercise, whether it be running, walking, yoga or even dancing, releases endorphins and will almost immediately begin to brighten your mood. A positive side effect: you won't have to work as hard to get your bikini-bod back ;)
- Start a hobby. Winter is a great opportunity to start a new hobby. Pick up an instrument that you've been meaning to learn, paint, read a book, re-do furniture, learn to ferment etc. Ever since adopting winter hobbies of my own (re-doing furniture, fermenting, cooking from-scratch, making beauty products and blogging), I feel much happier and more full-filled then I used to this time of year.
- Close the blinds at night and open them again the morning. For me, peering out in to complete darkness at 5 o'clock brings on a bit of sadness and anxiety. Simply closing my blinds once the sun sets and turning on some nice lighting helps immensely. Then, as soon as the natural lights starts to peer through your windows in the morning...open them right up again!
- Change the lighting in your home. Ditch the hospital fluorescents and stick to general, or "ambient" lighting. Bulbs labelled "soft white" give off the best light during the darker months.
- Play cheerful music. Keep the overall atmosphere in your home happy and up-beat. If you suffer from seasonal depression, maybe it's best to hold off buying the new Adele album until spring.
- Eat comforting (healthy) food. We've been using food to comfort ourselves since the day we were born - it's completely natural to turn to food for comfort (not to be confused with emotional eating). Just ensure that you're making healthy choices (yes, there is such thing healthy comfort food). My favourite comfort food in the evening is homemade sweet & spicy chipolte popcorn - find my incredible recipe here!
- Avoid the temptation to drink. I used to turn in to a total wine-o when Winter rolled around, but trust me, it's only a temporary fix. Alcohol will enhance feelings of depression and cause you to feel lethargic and unmotivated.
- Get your sexy on! Release some endorphins and have some sex. Oh ya, and coconut oil makes a great, all-natural lubricant ;)
- Soak up the Vitamin D whenever you get the chance, or supplement with drops or pills. Vitamin D is essential for many important functions in the body, and is obtained primarily through sunlight. Insufficient vitamin D, among other things, is linked to depression, so ensuring that you're getting enough vitamin D in the winter is crucial for mental health. To do this, try to get outside on every sunny day...but because adults need a recommended amount of 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day, a supplement may be our best bet. If you are planning on supplementing vitamin D, ensure that you're taking Vitamin D3 and not D2. I like this Vitamin D3 supplement.
- Plan a trip... or anything to look forward to. Book a sunny vacation for Janruary or February, or even a fun, weekend adventure. Anything to look forward to and something to break up the winter can help.
- Get out of the house (not to be confused with #2 "Get Outside"). Winter can feel isolating, so make an attempt to meet up with friends, plan play-dates or go to a movie. Don't you dare turn down a social invite this time of year!
- Bring plants and fresh flowers indoors. Certain house-plants purify the air and improve oxygen levels in your home, and fresh flowers... I mean, common, who doesn't enjoy looking at a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
- (Yes, I know I said 15, but I came up with another one after I had already made the cover photo, so consider this a bonus ;)) Have a long, hot bath with therapeutic bath salts. Hot baths alone are a wonderful treat(and definitely something that we don't do as much of in the summer), but adding bath salts with up-lifting and mood enhancing essential oils will take your bath to another level. Bath salt recipe HERE!