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Fighting Back The Winter Blues

Happy ongoing winter, everyone! Or is it… happy? Winter has a lot going for it. It’s definitely a beautiful time of year for us in the frozen North, conjuring images of beautiful snowy landscapes, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, uninterrupted dinners in warm, snuggly houses, and quality time with the people that mean the most to us.

unnamed-4For some of us, winter can also be a time when a mixture of cabin fever and a severe lack of sunshine causes what is now known as “SAD,” or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a type of depression that sets in at the same time every year. As someone who also lives with depression year-round, and is prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve had ample time to come up with tricks and solutions to fight back against winter malaise!

Here’s a few tips, tricks, and skills (in no particular order) that I’ve either used myself, or that I’ve seen friends use to great effect to keep their chin up and not just survive the Winter, but to thrive during it.

DIET

I think we all intellectually understand the role that food plays in our well-being, but when we’re bogged down with life, work, commitments, and depression, it can easily become de-prioritized. Something that helps me is making a winter food plan before winter is even here.

unnamed-2Think about healthy fruits and veggies that are in season where you live in the Winter months. There’s so many great recipe apps out there! I personally love the Whole Foods App, which lets you put together ingredients and recipes based on what you have on-hand, and what you still need, then select recipes based on Low Sodium, Vegetarian, and so on. Anything to make home-cooking easier, right? Not only are home-cooked meals cheaper and healthier on average, but the simple act of cooking can be extremely therapeutic.

Omega 3’s and Vitamin D also play a very important role in regulating our mood and energy levels. (And consider asking your doctor if taking one or both of these regularly, even if it’s just during the winter.)

EXERCISE

unnamed-3While for some people exercise is practically their raison d’etre, for others it can be a struggle to get cardio in when the windchill is -50 ºF (unless you count the painful 15 minutes spent scraping a sheet of ice off the car). Check into a fancy gym membership just to tide you over until you can hit the pavement again. Additionally, free weights may work for some people, and there’s also Bodyweight Exercises that you can do without the aid of fancy equipment!

The important take-away is that exercise of any kind releases a chemical cocktail in our brains that play an important part in regulating mood and emotional stability. Get movin’, your body & mind will thank you for it!

UNPLUG

I absolutely love my job, and the people I work with everyday are some of the most hardworking and all-around awesome people I know. Sometimes it is hard for me to step away from the computer, and take a break.

unnamed-3That said, I also know how important it is, and we often talk about the work/life balance. There’s a lot of studies that have been done in recent years about the relation between blue-spectrum light and people having difficulty falling asleep (yes, this definitely includes cell phones). As a rule, it’s a good idea to have at least an hour before bed every night doing a low-intensity activity such as reading a book or painting. Resist the urge to check all of your emails on your phone right before turning the lights off for the night, and you’ll thank yourself in the morning!

HOBBIES

One thing that can help to keep your mood up while you’re stuck inside is to pursue a hobby that you already have and love, or even to find a new one! The Winter is a great time to learn a new craft or skill that you can do in the comfort of your own home. My own offline choice is typically music (playing guitar or listening to my backlog of new music). Picking up an instrument is a fantastic way to create a positive feedback-loop as you accomplish something every day by learning something new, and improving.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

It’s easy to feel guilty when we treat ourselves. After all, isn’t it a bad thing to think of yourself first? It certainly can be, taken to extremes. When we’re struggling with depression, it can be especially difficult to remember to take care of ourselves. My own rule is that I should treat myself no worse than I treat my best friends.

“If I talked to my best friend the way I talked to myself, would I hurt their feelings?”

In the Winter if you’re struggling, remember to be your own best friend. Don’t be afraid to go to a specialty shop and get some really nice essential oils and have a luxurious bath. Buy that really expensive bar of dark chocolate you always look at but never buy. The more love you give yourself, the more you’ll have to share with everyone in your life!

How about you? What are some of the things you do to stay productive, happy, and healthy this time of year?

Zayna Usher
Assistant Project Manager

 

 

 

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Talk Back

Amanda
Posted on February 6, 2015

Awesome info. I needed this, because I am so ready for spring! Thank you, Zayna!

Gina
Posted on February 6, 2015

Great blog Zayna – thanks for sharing! 🙂

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