I live in southeast Virginia, near the coastline. One of the reasons I love the area so much is because of the climate. It’s mild most of the year, we actually enjoy a real, though short Spring season and our summer-like days can extend into early November, sometimes longer. As a matter of fact, it’s supposed to be over 60 degrees tomorrow. What we don’t get a lot of and are not equipped to handle is heapings of snow; even two inches can shut us down.
A week ago we were clobbered by Grayson, the blizzard of 2018. Our children were released early from school last Wednesday, about nine hours before the first snowflake fell and the majority of our schools are still closed. A week’s vacation for the kids and a week of cabin fever and added stress for parents.
I didn’t leave my house for four days, and I got a little stir crazy, I also started to feel a bit down, which got me thinking about the winter blues. I’m one of the most optimistic, energetic, and upbeat people you will ever encounter, but each year, usually between mid-January to mid-March I suffer from a lull in my natural, healthy mental state. I classify this as the winter blues.
In fact, there’s a medical term for the seasonal blues; seasonal affective disorder (SAD – appropriate ;). It can affect anyone and is common in people who are perfectly healthy most of the year but during a short stretch of time are off their game. For most people, it’s during the winter months. We express lower energy levels, sleep more, and may get down on life.
Winter presents shorter days to enjoy daylight, we tend to be less active, we’re constricting our bodies with layers of clothes, and our diets change as we incorporate heavier foods to warm our insides. So how do we plow through these challenges and keep from falling prey to the winter blues? Here are ten practices I’ve tried that always give me the boost I need. If you feel like the weather has beaten you down, I hope they can help you too!
- Wear bright colors. Just because it’s gray and gloomy outside doesn’t mean your clothes have to be. Scarves are fashionable this time of year, so maybe that can be your pop of color.
2. Infuse your environments with the sounds and smell of things that make you happy. If summer is the season where you feel the most vibrant, light candles or infuse incense that smells like the sea or your favorite flowers. I don’t know about you, but music makes me happy. Produce an upbeat playlist for the season to keep your momentum up.
3. Indulge in a new book that has a lively setting or characters. Consume yourself with someone else’s story. One of my favorite books of all time is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert; a perfect read this time of year. If you enjoy British humor and romance any book by Jane Green is a good read too. If you like darker, more twisted stories, I’m a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs, the author of Running with Scissors and a handful of other memoirs.
4. Treat yourself to a body scrub or wrap. Nothing feels better than a day at the spa. This time of year you can book yourself a treatment that will sluff off all of your dry, dead skin and brighten your body and mind. If you can’t afford a trip to the spa, purchase a body scrub at your local drugstore or wellness center and pamper yourself. I also suggest keeping your hands and feet soft and pretty with a mani or pedi.
5. Move your body to increase your heart rate regularly. You don’t have to drag yourself to the gym and aimlessly workout for two hours, unless this is your jam, just move. If you like to dance then dance, if you enjoy a brisk walk then find time in your schedule to trek your heart out. I practice yoga, pilates, dance, and I switch up full-body routines. I just discovered a new app that I LOVE, and I recommend you download, especially if you have a jam-packed schedule. The app is MoveWith. You download 5-20 minute audio personal trainer workouts. It’s like the trainer is with you in person. The exercises are easy to understand, but will also kick your butt. I did a 3-minute ab burner workout the other day, and I can still feel the burn.
6. Take time in nature. I know it’s cold outside, but the brisk air can be good for you. It will definitely make you feel alive. Even if you just step outside a few minutes a day and breathe the air in and out with intention and take in the beauty around you, it can add a positive boost to your state-of-mind.
7. Eat like it’s summer. Hearty beef stew and chicken casserole taste and feel so good, but they’re dense foods and can make you feel the same way. Switch up your menu and try a delicious piece of salmon or another fish with a salad filled with strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. Think about the lighter fare you enjoy during the warmer months and reincorporate them into your diet.
8. Color your hair. I don’t just mean covering your gray, I suggest a total overhaul. I typically add red and purple hues to my color this time of year, but if you’ve always wanted to be a blonde, go for it! I don’t know about you, but I feel so amazing and gorgeous after I get my hair done!
9. This is for my ladies; wear lipstick and blush. Try new palettes and have fun with the colors of the season. Did you know that during the great depression when all industries were suffering the sale of lipstick increased? Even in dark moments, women want to feel pretty. Lipstick and blush are a fun and affordable way to make yourself feel good.
10. Create vibrant spaces in your home and work. Change your bedding, freshen up your living room with new throw pillows, paint a room. If that seems like too much, then keep your blinds open and add light to the places you spend the most time in. Design a seasonal haven you can wrap yourself in as you wait for the gloomy and cold days to pass.
What are some of your practices to see you through the winter blues? Spring will be here soon. In the meantime, seek out the things you need to keep you in a positive mindset!
With all the love in my heart! XOXO