Hello, hello my friend,
Winter is long here just a scooch north of the 45th parallel. Even though daylight savings time means we aren’t getting up in the pitch dark anymore, it still feels like daylight is a precious commodity. Several people I know struggle with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This time of year, it’s a very common thing for those who live in the northern hemisphere. Last year was the first year I felt a touch of it myself and began to understand what those around me deal with. I felt blue, my energy was lacking and I struggled to get out of my own way. Thankfully this year I seem to be in a better place.
Maybe you are one of the many, many people who suffer each year from SAD or perhaps you’re one of the many, many people who feels like the journey from February to April is about six months long. We all need ideas, ways to help ourselves through the lingering days of winter. Here are a few things that help me during those draggy months. None of these ideas are earth shattering or world changing but hopefully there will be something amongst them that will appeal to you.
Love Your Space
After Christmas when the decorations get packed away, you know… sometime in January, I take advantage of opportunity to create a comfy home base for the remainder of the winter. If we are going to be stuck inside for a couple more months we might as well love our space. This is a great time of year to have some green plants around. Not only do they improve the quality of the air when you can’t open the windows, the green is a welcome sight for your spirit.
At our house we also keep a big basket of warm throws and soft blankets for cuddle down with a good movie or an excellent book. Think about what fills you up with a sense of contentment, is it a wood fire crackling or perhaps photos of your loved ones scattered about? Perhaps it’s just turning off the phone and relaxing together. Make your space somewhere you wouldn’t mind being stuck for a few days. After all that has been known to happen . . .
Find A Project
As well as embracing the decor of the season, I look for some fun projects, fun indoor projects. When my kids were small we used to mail out valentines to their cousins. They loved choosing a box of cards from the dollar store, writing their names and sending them off in the mail with the envelopes festooned in heart stickers. Everyone loves getting mail. A card or handwritten note is sure to brighten a day. Think about who you could send a happy ‘thinking of you’ note to, just knowing the joy it will bring them will give you a warm fuzzy feeling as well. Throw up a folding table to build a puzzle on. Not only is it a perfect activity for the winter months, it comes with it’s own feeling of accomplishment when completed. Is there an area you have been wanting to dig out and organize? Go for it, being busy and productive will improve your outlook. Plus you reap the benefit of a clean linen closet.
This is also the time of year to call up some friends and have a game night. There are some amazing new games out there, so much fun to play. Being social and spending time with people you enjoy is the perfect way to life your spirits. There is a temptation during these months to just hunker down and become a hermit. Getting out and seeing my friends in real life not just on social media is hugely uplifting. Go for coffee with a friend, host a casual dinner party even if you just order in pizza, attend bible study or prayer meeting, have an afternoon of crafting, scrapbooking, card making, canvases and coffee, the ideas are endless. Laughter is indeed medicine for the soul, laughter shared with good friends doubly so.
Embrace the great outdoors and go for walk. This is one of the hardest ones for me. I hate the cold, oh how I hate the cold. But being outside soaking in the morning light, seeing the wonder of nature or your neighbourhood transformed by winter is good for us. Recognizing the beauty of the ordinary, moving, hearing the snow crunch underfoot it is invigorating. (As much as I hate to admit it.) If you are someone who loves winter outdoor sports you already know what I’m talking about, the rush of cold air hitting your lungs, the sparkle of the light hitting the snow, no one has to push you out the door do they? You are probably sleeping tonight with your jammies on backwards hoping for a snow day so you can go skiing. But for the rest of us it is a challenge, we need to remember that getting outside, turning our faces to the natural light and vitamin D we are craving is worth bundling up and doing.
It’s the perfect time of year to embrace some, perfect in that changes seem to fit with the beginning of the new year and perfect because it’s just what your body needs during these months. Invest in a light box, I have friends who say their light boxes are vital this time of year. Start an exercise routine, exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you feel happy and that’s good thing. Plus after the indulgences of December it feels right to be taking care of yourself. Going to the gym, the walking trail at the Y or hitting the pool any of these will also get you out among the people making your exercise time a double win.
We should also think about food . . .yeah who really wants to do that, not me. But the truth is that cleaning up our diet, limiting the meals and treats will help us. Instead of feeling lethargic from food high in sugars and simple carbs, we can make changes that will actually improve our energy. Reforming our diet by adding vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins is a positive thing. Go ahead eat soups filled with colourful veggies, start your day with a smoothie, eat something green, I dare you! Be sure to get enough sleep, it’s a dark time of the year, take advantage of that and go to bed early. We all know that proper sleep improves everyone’s mood.
Don’t Be Stubborn
Sometimes remaining active, being social, eating our veggies and getting our sleep isn’t enough. In that case, don’t be stubborn. Give your doctor a call. Winter is long and S.A.D. is real. If someone who loves you is concerned, let them be concerned and listen to them. Remember, ‘a wise man is he who listens to counsel.’ Proverbs 12:15b
Unfortunately we all can’t fly south for the winter and hibernating isn’t the answer either. Thankfully there are numerous ways we can help ourselves. I am sure you have things that get you through these frosty months. I would love to hear your ideas. What are your favourite cold weather activities? What never fails to improve your mood? Have you taken on a hobby or project? Are you learning something new? Inquiring minds want to know. Until next time, keep your stick on the ice and grab your vitamin D wherever you can find it.