I admitted to my listeners this past week that I’d been in a funk and I’ve received many great emails of support with lots of juicy advice on beating seasonal funks.
Carrie Willard even offered me a guest blog post – which I’m pleased to share with you now :)
When I saw Kelly’s newsletter Friday, I immediately asked her if I could share a few tips on staying happy and productive during the darker winter months. (Obviously, she said yes!) In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed the familiar old feeling returning and began to get concerned about my level of productivity and interest in my online business and writing.
Since my teens, I’ve recognized that I experience “spring fever” – increased energy, jumping out of bed early in the morning, and general zest and excitement for life, in response to the increased light.
But it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s (I’m a slow learner) that I realized that I also experience the opposite: wintertime blues. For the last few years, however, I’ve developed a few tricks and habits that have helped tremendously.
Here they are:
- Go Outside
- Eat Right
- Happy Light
Being born and raised in the Deep South, I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold. I have to force myself to dress in layers and get outside. But, spending time outdoors even when I have to bundle up helps my mood tremendously. Natural light, even in winter, is of a higher quality than indoor lighting. I find it especially helpful to go outside during the morning hours. This helps me wake up and boosts my energy, which tends to flag in the cooler months.
In addition, many people become deficient in Vitamin D during the winter months, and this can worsen depression symptoms. Getting outside each day can prevent this.
It’s tempting to turn to sugar and empty carbs to improve your mood, but fight the urge.
These things will cause blood sugar swings that can negatively impact mood anytime. If you’re craving sweets, make sure you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats, and indulge in complex carbs (things like sweet potatoes with maple syrup) instead of junk food. Also, I’m not opposed to a little judicial use of caffeine to self-medicate (caffeine is a natural antidepressant), but I limit myself to 2 cups a day, and not after 2 PM, so that I can sleep well at night.
How many times have we read about studies proving that exercise helps with depression? While all I want to do is couch out with hot tea and a good book all winter, movement boosts my mood instantly and also helps with those aches and pains I seem to get as soon as the thermostat starts dipping. It doesn’t take joining an expensive gym, even a 1-mile walk each day can do wonders.
The other nice thing about exercising in cold weather is that you burn more calories since your body has to work harder to regulate your temperature. Bonus!
Get a Happy Light
Two years ago, I broke down and purchased a “happy light” to use therapeutically. Mine is the Verilux brand, and it provides high quality, natural spectrum light to help combat winter blues. I don’t need it every day, just when we’ve had a few days in a row of gloomy grey, rainy weather and I haven’t been able to get outside. It was worth every penny at $50.
What are some things you’ve done to combat winter blues?
Carrie Willard is a homeschooling mom of many, writer and blogger. Last month she wrote about harnessing the power of habits to create big change in your life.