The last leg of winter sucks. It seems colder than when it began, daylight hours don’t seem to be getting any longer, and the stir craziness starts to kick in. I’m actually someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Mine, as with most people who have it, kicks in at the end of fall and lasts through winter. For years as a teenager, I would feel completely drained of energy during winter, and my interest in things that would normally make me happy just didn’t seem worth it. It honestly felt like a black hole I couldn’t claw my way out of. Now that I know to expect these feelings every year, my game plan to survive late winter blues and my SAD is strong, and I religiously practice it as soon as fall begins to turn cold. Here’s how you can, too.
I work from home, which is a blessing and a curse because it’s easy to get into recluse mode during winter. Whether you do or don’t work from home, take a walk every day during daylight hours, since natural light exposure helps with depression. I make an effort to walk my dog before noon so I can get plenty of sun on my face. And on the days when the weather is just too snowy or gross for him, I motivate myself with caffeine by walking to the furthest coffee shop from my place.
When you’re on those walks, it’s important that your eyes get a lot of exposure to that natural light, so skip the sunglasses if you can–except on those days when the snow is blinding you. It keeps your circadian rhythm (aka your inner clock) on point, allowing you to be more focused during the day and sleep better at night.
When you’re not feeling great about yourself, it’s easy to neglect your body and its needs. Taking a day each week to unwind and pamper your body goes a long way. On Sundays, I create a cozy nook to read in, give myself a facial & manicure, and drink tons of tea. Check out my tips on practicing Self Care Sunday here.
I’m one to go after comfort foods during the winter. And, by all means, I still do this often, but too much makes me feel sluggish. I strive to make little healthy choices that make a big difference, like eating a salad for lunch nearly every day. And for those afternoons when I just need something hot, I keep things vegetable-based. I love these recipes for winter:
It’s really easy for me to avoid hitting the gym when my excuse is that it’s too cold or nasty out to make the trip. But after about a week of this, I feel terrible. I’m stiff and my happiness level completely bottoms out. And it makes sense because when you get your body moving, it releases little happiness-inducing endorphins in your brain. Shoot for a sweat sesh three times a week, and on days that you don’t, take a little time to stretch or for a quick yoga circuit.