The winter blues, seasonal depression, SAD. Various names, but they all mean the same: being bummed out at the cold, snow, & general dark of the winter months. I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but let’s face it – living in Ohio, land of the four-six month winter, can be brutal. I first realized how much winter affected me in college, when I just couldn’t pull out of a funk. It comes & goes depending upon how much sunshine there is, but I’ve found some ways to cope the past several winters.
This year, however, the SAD completely crept up on me. I talked back in September how strange the seasons have been this year, abruptly shifting without much warning, & Winter has been no exception. Although November was chilly, it was definitely still fall weather. Come December 1, the snow started falling, & it’s pretty much been non-stop falling since. Usually the holiday season (I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!) with all it’s jolliness keeps my spirits bright until about mid-January, but Saturday, I woke up feeling unhappy, & didn’t understand why. The same thing happened Sunday. About halfway through the day, when I was staring into space wondering why on earth I felt this way, it dawned on me: I’m sitting, in the dark, no curtains pulled, reading online about the impending snow storm of doom, wondering why I’m all bummed out.
The SAD has arrived early! Rather than let that realization sadden me more, I instantly turned off weather.com, retreated to the brightest room in the house (even filtered through heavy clouds, it’s still daylight!), & got to work. The only way to beat the winter is to think like spring!
Some ways to get through the long winter nights:
» Up your vitamin D. There’s been some controversy about this of late, but one thing I know is true: I’m not getting any D from the sun in Ohio from at least November to April, if not most of the year. We’re too far north, & I live in the second cloudiest area of the country to boot. The Vitamin D Council suggests, rather than the paltry 400 IU daily recommendation from the government, that we get 1000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight per day. That might seem like a lot, but there’s little chance of overdosing on D. Within the past few months I’ve done this, & I definitely feel better. I take the drops in olive oil; just drop ’em on my tongue before I’m out the door in the morning.
» Get active. I feel better emotionally & mentally when I get my body moving too, & so I’m going to try to get on the stationary bike for about a 1/2 hour every day. But just as I approach my walks throughout the rest of the year, this isn’t as “exercise.” Instead, I’ll keep it to a nice, leisurely pace; listen to music & read while on the bike. Doing this each morning should set me up for a lovely day!
» If you can’t make your house feel like spring, at least make it smell like spring! I picked up a “Greenhouse” Yankee candle (it has hints of hyacinth & other wonderful scents without being too overpowering), & have been lighting it each morning when I do yoga. The stretching definitely helps deal with the aches & pains of the bitter cold weather.
» Moving on to your other senses; let’s talk sounds! Listening to the birds chirping in Peaceful Garden seems to help, too, especially when combined with yoga & the candle.
» Throw yourself into a hobby. You might have noticed an increase in posts around here – definitely not a coincidence. Over the summer, the last thing I want to do is be cooped up inside with a computer, but right now, there’s not much else to do. This winter I’m definitely going to make lots of jewelry, a hobby of mine, & open up an Etsy in order to make a bit of money doing so.
» This one should be a no-brainer, but it needs to be said anyways: keep your eating clean! Get the processed junk out of your house & eat Real Food. You’ll feel so much better on a diet of veggies, good fats, quality meat, & fruit!
» Keep up with the cleaning. I know when I get to feeling this way, the last thing I want to do is housework. Perhaps this is why minimalism is so appealing to me – the less stuff I’ve got, the less time it takes to clean. I feel better when the apartment is tidy, so I try to do a little bit of it every day, rather than spending a whole weekend scrubbing everything clean.
» Get a light box if you can, but if you can’t, find some way to look outside for at least a few minutes during the daylight hours. When the sky is clear & the sun does show his shy face, get outside. Go for a drive, bundle up & take a walk, do whatever, but definitely get out there & enjoy it while it lasts. I live for those rare mild days throughout winter, & plan my life around them.
These ideas have worked for me in recent years, but we all have different styles. What are your strategies to get through the seemingly endless cycle of snowstorms? Are you hunkering down with a book every night, snuggling up to your sweetie, or just cursing at the sky? I want to do the latter (& may have done it on more than one occassion), but I know it won’t make warm weather get here any faster. We’ve a long winter’s night to get through before the sunnier days of April & May. Keep smilin’; we’ll make it through!