Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

by Danica on January 14, 2014

Winter is a really tough time for a lot of people.  Once the holidays are over, there are several months of cold, snowy winter left, and there is limited opportunity to be outside.  Have you ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?  In all seriousness, I experience this, to some degree, during January and February every year (and sometimes March and April, depending on how long our winter lasts).

I struggle more with being upbeat and happy, I’m less motivated to exercise (unless I get stressed out about the weather, then I’m all for it), and I’ve even broken down in tears in years past because of how much I desperately desire to just be outside in the sun.  10 degrees with mounds of snow, sidewalks covered in ice, and bone-chilling wind isn’t exactly the ideal climate to be out jogging/walking/biking/relaxing in.

Over the past few years, as I’ve come to realize just how negatively these tough winter months can wear on me, I’ve learned ways to be proactive about keeping my mood lifted and my attitude positive.

winter

Here are some of my go-to ways to fight the winter blues:

Be Social

  • make more “dates” with friends (go out for coffee or tea, lunch or dinner, meet up at the gym, go see a concert, walk around the mall, etc.)
  • get dressed up and go out on a *real date* with my husband
  • play with my dog without any other distractions (pet owners – you know this totally helps boost your mood!)
  • if possible, plan a weekend with friends  (we have a trip planned out for February, and it really helps to have something to look forward to during this time of the year!)
  • call a family member and chat
  • attend a painting class

Get Involved

  • search out a volunteer opportunity/service project and make a difference in someone else’s life
  • join a church or community group that meets regularly  (I look forward to my small group Bible study each week)

Move your Body

  • turn on some music and dance around my house
  • throw in an exercise dvd (maybe from the library?) or work out for a bit to something I find on Youtube…and if either of those don’t seem appealing, there’s always a stockpile here!  **perfect for during naptime if you’re a mama!
  • exercise at the gym!!  go to a fitness class, print out a workout from online and try that out, ask a friend to meet there for either a walk together or a class
  • if the weather gets warm enough, embrace the season – bundle up and go snow boarding/tubing/skiing, take a hike if possible, or go for a walk

Eat Well

  • eat healthy, wholesome food!!!  unsurprisingly, this really makes a huge difference.
  • experiment with new-to-me fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • try out a new recipe (there are a hundred+ here that I have waiting to try!)
  • don’t use the dreary weather as an excuse to eat junk food – it’ll just make me want to laze around on the couch even more
  • be creative in the kitchen and come up with a meal/recipe of my own
  • limit alcohol and caffeine  (I don’t particularly have much of either of these, but if you do, you may want to cut back – they can contribute to anxiety and an even lower mood)

Practice Self-Care

  • in addition to the things listed above…paint my nails, take a bath, get a haircut, curl my hair, etc.
  • stick to my schedule of daily devotions/prayer time (for a bit each morning and evening is what works best for me)  <– this is how I’m reminded of where my love, hope, and strength comes from!
  • take a good quality Vitamin D supplement
  • make sure I get enough sleep every night (7-9 hours)
  • go to the library and spend time reading!  maybe a novel about a sunny, warm beach?
  • enjoy a homemade dessert/treat

It’s also an option to purchase a light therapy box, if interested, so help with SAD.

winter walk - zida

*****

What do YOU do to fight off the winter blues?

m4s0n501

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessie January 14, 2014 at 5:43 am

Great post & ideas!

For exercise: I’ve always enjoyed cicruit workouts involving both cardio & weights. These type of workouts have always kept me from becoming bored.

For eating: Fruits, veggies, healthy fats ALWAYS! Sure comforting food is nice to have from time to time, but to be honest – it just makes me feel blah

For social: like you said, date nights w/ your man. Whether it’s a date night out or one in consisting of a home cooked meal, movies & games
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2 Jessie January 14, 2014 at 5:44 am

oh & 2 more things:

1. I cannot believe I hadn’t been following you on pinterest already!!
2. Be on the look out for an email sometime tomorrow
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3 Danica January 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Somehow I wasn’t following you either?! No worries, I fixed that quickly :)

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4 Heidi @ Idlehide January 14, 2014 at 5:54 am

I also experience this! This winter isn’t bad so far because of the baby on the way, but usually every late Jan into February I feel a little down in the dumps. Small group definitely helped me too, I looked forward to it every Wednesday night. Making little dates with friends and making time to be active are probably the 2 biggest ones for me!
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5 Danica January 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I bet that your pregnancy made this winter easier too…something so exciting to look forward to!

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6 Heather @fitncookies January 14, 2014 at 6:03 am

OH I definitely relate to this! I feel like I experience this to some degree, too. I have a hard time being motivated and doing things when it’s snowing and really cold. I definitely find setting up dates and having reasons to get out of the house definitely helps!
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7 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm

It really does! Too bad we don’t live closer!!

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8 Tina Muir January 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

This is such a great article. Wow! I will be keeping this on file for the future. Although I now live in Philly and it isnt as bad, I used to live in Michigan and it was miserable. I would struggle so much through the winters. One year I tore me calf on the snow; stopping my training dead and it took me a while to get back to the same level. I was devastated, and that was the nail in the coffin for winter. I wish I had your tips at the time, instead I went into a depression thinking that running was all I had to offer the world! Hopefully others read this and you prevent that from happening.

One thing that really helped me, was writing a journal, anything that came to mind on one page; about what I wanted in life, how I wanted my day to go, how I felt. On the other page I would write everything I was grateful for. It really did help! I also wrote a list of activities I enjoyed that I could do during the winter, and worked my way through the list.

Thanks for sharing!
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9 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Thank you, Tina! I really do hope it helps someone, too!
ahh writing a journal is a fantastic idea!! I actually journal every day and I’ve noticed a major (positive) difference it’s made in my life. Would you mind if I used your suggestion and added it to my list above?

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10 Sarah@creatingbettertomorrow January 14, 2014 at 6:39 am

I try to make myself enjoy things I don’t do (or don’t do as often when it’s warm out) like baking…I don’t like to heat the house up when it’s hot out…so I bake my favorite recipes. Listen to music like Sunny and 75 :) my new favorite country song. Or we watch tons of movies becuase once it is nice outside we DO NOT sit around on the couch we are out enjoying the weather :)
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11 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

That’s a really good point, Sarah – EMBRACING the season rather than sulking in it. love it :)

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12 Becky January 14, 2014 at 7:11 am

I love your ideas. Since I live in Texas our winters aren’t nearly as bad as yours, but it still gets pretty cold! To me it does anyways lol! I like to make sure I still get in my workouts, which usually end up being indoor circuit and strength workouts if it’s too cold. I also enjoy taking warm, comfort food meals, and turning them into a healthy dish that is still warm and comforting!
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13 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Yes – I think that even though not everywhere (obviously) gets mounds of snow, the weather certainly changes and requires an adjustment for everyone. It sounds like you do a great job of enjoying the season, Becky!

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14 Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat January 14, 2014 at 8:22 am

Well, this is funny because I was going to do a post along the same lines. Great minds think a like! ;-)

Anyway, the winter blues are a very real thing and I’ve definitely experienced them. I think the biggest thing for me is to not change my routine. Just do what I typically do. This helps me stay on track and not fall into a rut.
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15 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm

love it – I bet it’s because so many of us are dealing with it right now! I’d look forward to reading your ways to fight the winter blues, too!

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16 Katie January 14, 2014 at 9:26 am

Love this list! I am volunteering with the high school dance team but last night I was so darn crabby! I wasn’t mean to the girls, but wasn’t as nice as usual to a few people I saw in the hallways. So I need to make sure I’m nice to them the next time I see them. I think it does help to get out and do things. I struggle the most when I don’t connect with other people.
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17 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Don’t be too hard on yourself, Katie – you’re such a wonderful person! We all have tougher days, but I’m sure you’re making such a big difference in the lives of the girls you’re working with.

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18 Katie January 15, 2014 at 9:10 am

Thank you Danica!!! That is so nice of you to say!
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19 Dallas January 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

These are such great tips, Danica! I definitely remember struggling more with winter blues when I lived in snowy Indiana for three years. Even in warm weather, though, I sometimes feel a “let down” in January/February … I think after all the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s, it’s normal to feel a little blah. I’ll be referring back to this post when I am feeling blue! I especially agree with your advice about eating healthy, exercising, and connecting with people. I went to a yoga class this morning and it’s given me a boost all day long!
Love your blog and so grateful for you, my friend! <3
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20 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Thanks, Dallas! I hope that you can use them to your advantage…reading blogs (like yours!) certainly help me through the tough winter months, too :) I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far, friend!

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21 Allison @ Life's a Bowl January 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

This is a wonderful post, so many great ideas! I definitely experience a little of this myself, mostly in late January through February when I start to get sick of the cold and wish it was summer. I start telling everyone that I’m ready to up and move to Florida…!
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22 Danica January 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I hear you on wanting to move sometimes!! I’ve only ever lived in Minnesota, and I dream of what it’s like for other places to have warm weather year-round. I think that if we are to move someday (to someplace like that) I would never be able to take it for granted!

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23 Stephanie@nowirun.com January 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Living in Flagstaff (with winter, but 300+ days of sun) has helped tremendously. I’d suggest a “Happy Light.” I also know that it can be extremely difficult for some of us to find the energy/desire/ability to actually do some of the things you listed (though I’m LOVING the list and am going to keep it handy ~ I’ve been needing something like this). What then? That’s a tough question…
I’m thinking ~ counseling, prayer, scheduling items on your list in your calendar just like other appointments, etc.
Thank you for this thoughtful post, Danica. Someone very close to me and I were just discussing this!
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24 Andrea @ pencils and pancakes January 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

Great tips, I like to plan something fun during February to have something to look forward to.
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25 Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut January 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm

This is a great list and definitely applies to living in Minnesota! I didn’t realize this before moving up here in June, but there is actually less sunlight here because it’s further north. Sad day!

I’ve found out I need to get outside at least once a day and definitely need to workout to get rid of the anxious energy that comes from feeling trapped inside the apartment!
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