It’s cold out there.
At least here in Chicagoland and many other parts of the world.
Not really a surprise. It’s winter after all.
But… I’m hating it. Make that hate-hate-hating it. I obsessively check weather bug on my phone—have I accidentally entered the zip code for Antarctica?—and will it to be different.
This winter isn’t quite as bad as last winter, with its Polar Vortex, endless onslaught of snow, harsh winds, biting below zero temperatures. It was a legitimate Jack Frost on steroids.
But it’s winter. And with it comes the winter blues for a lot of people.
Mix up those winter blues…
I’ve come up with a list of ways to mix up the winter blues and expose a cheerful rainbow (or at least a shift into some of the warmer color spectrums):
1. Write every morning.
Let it all out. Complain to your heart’s content from pen to paper. Explore the way you feel and why. For a writing exercise, list out all the negatives of winter. For every negative, come up with a positive. Writing actually affects the brain (and heart) in amazing ways!
No matter what the weather, find a way to move. Jumping jacks, push ups…try a free online yoga class if you can’t afford studio prices. Walk up and down the stairs. Run in place. Try out a health club—most will give you one free visit to try it out. Take a walk or run outdoors—wear layers and walk fast and it won’t be bad at all. Use common sense, of course. Running on icy roads, for example, is not sensible.
3. Get a full spectrum light.
Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that hits in the fall and winter months when the days get shorter and we’re getting less exposure to natural light. A full spectrum light mimics outdoor light and can be effective in treating SAD. I have a full spectrum desk lamp and turn it on for 30 minutes every morning while I’m working—whether it’s psychological (I can almost imagine myself at the beach when it’s on) or not, I don’t care. It works.
4. Stay away from processed foods.
Many of us have a craving for carbs, especially the processed ones, during the winter months. But by eating healthy—fruits, veggies, whole grains—we hamstring our longing for the bad stuff. You can do it!!
5. Dance. Turn up the volume on some tunes, let go and move. Move it and groove it. If you’re like me, you’ll want to do it alone away from who you imagine to be Dancing with the Stars type judges. Free yourself! Make up some silly moves and laugh.
Read some Calvin and Hobbes. Get a dose of Louis CK (or your fave comedian). Get together with old friends and reminisce about all the silly things you did in your youth. If that doesn’t do it for you, stand in front of a mirror (or sit across from your kids) and have a fake laughter contest. Eventually, some real laughter will arise from the bowels of your sorry soul.
7. Get outside!
Face the winter head on. It is not thine enemy. It is simply one of our seasons here on Earth and part of life (unless you’re lucky enough to live in California). Embrace it! Run through the snow, hold it in your hands. Taste it (disclaimer: do not taste it if it contains animal droppings or is discolored). Notice the sounds and how they’re dampened by the chill. Search for signs of wildlife.
8. Travel to a warmer destination.
If your pocketbook allows, get the hell outta dodge. Even a long weekend can bring rainbows into focus. Consider trading houses with a friend or house-sit—even if you don’t leave the ‘hood, you can gain a fresh perspective.
9. Treat yourself to a spa experience.
If you can’t afford a getaway, why not get a massage or pedicure? Enjoy a sauna somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a fancy “spa” to reap some benefits of feeling nurtured.
10. Curl up with a book and a cup of tea.
Enjoy this time. Read a trashy novel. Or decide to learn something new and find books about it. Be sure to have hot mug in hand. Light a candle (make sure it’s soy or 100 percent beeswax—otherwise it’s like burning diesel fuel). I like to make matcha tea. Recipe forthcoming!
Being on our computers can be a temporary distraction from feeling down. But have you tried just stepping away and looking out the window? Petting your dog or cat or stretching?
Try this tech time-out meditation by Green Diva Meg.
Do you see the rainbow yet?
Please share the ways you mix up the winter blues!
* If your depression is severe, you should consult with your doctor, since I am not one.
Adapted from a piece I wrote for elephantjournal.com.