Every time winter comes around, it brings with it some of the best and worst parts of the year: it’s holiday season, which means you get to spend plenty of time with friends and family! But that also means you have to spend time planning, shopping, and cooking, which means S T R E S S. The streets are decked out with beautiful lights and the ground might be adorned with an elegant sheet of snow…which also means you’re freezing your patootie off.
As much as the good parts of winter are wonderful, the bad parts of winter can be difficult to handle sometimes. Here are my favorite ways to keep a smile on throughout the entire season.
Get some rays.
- Tons of people get a little blue when the sky looks gray. There’s a reason for that — the sun provides us with the essential Vitamin D, which can affect the mood, among other things. The easiest way to make sure your body gets enough vitamin D — which also helps the bones absorb calcium and vitamin D, contributing to skeletal health — is to get out into the sun! So just go on a quick walk at lunch time, and you’ll be all set.
Take your vitamins!
- Too cold for a walk outside? No problem. Vitamin D is available over the counter at most drugstores, and it’s even in your food! You can make a tasty, vitamin D filled meal if you steam some salmon or grill some mushrooms, munch on some walnuts or even use fortified milk in your cereal.
- We’re often more prone to being couch potatoes when it’s cold or gross outside, but it’s important that we fight the urge! Getting your endorphins flowing will boost your mood, help you sleep better, increase your metabolism, and do all the things that exercise usually does for your body even when it’s not cold and you’re feeling a bit down.
- We can’t help it sometimes. It snows and we’re stuck inside. The gym is closed. No one wants to have a snowball fight. It’s a three hour drive to find a place to ski (no thank you). Moving in the winter is just harder! There’s still a way to get your blood flowing to your brain: stretching. Just stand up where you are, raise your arms above your head, and open your chest up for a few seconds; or fold over to the floor and give your hamstrings the stretch they deserves. Or take up yoga, which can easily be accommodated within the boundaries of your home.
Sleep it off.
- Sometimes, the best cure for your winter woe is hitting the snooze button. The reason that we like to curl up when it’s so frigid out is because it actually does make us feel better! So grab a good book, your favorite cup of tea (might I recommend a nice chai with warm milk?), and a comfy blanket, because it’s only natural to want to hibernate! Bring out your inner bear, teddy or otherwise!But be warned: if you spend too much time in hibernation mode, you’ll wind up stuck there. Remember that this step comes AFTER moving and stretching!
- You know those horrific Black Friday specials that you’ve thought about clamoring out of bed at 6am for, only to return home a few hours later with a black eye and a slightly cheaper sofa? Forget about it. That’ll stress you out, maybe piss you off, and possibly even get you hurt. The internet is abuzz with special deals all season, and it’s much easier to navigate than the mall.
- If you’re down in the dumps, all the good stuff that happens in winter can be overshadowed by all the bad stuff. Don’t let that happen! Go to the holiday parties you’ve been invited to, invite your friends over for hot chocolate, try out ice skating. Isolating yourself when you’re feeling depression only amplifies the depression.Even if socializing doesn’t make the feelings of depression go away, it typically keeps your mood from sinking lower. It’ll be hard, so start small — that one friend of yours who’s been dying to try a new restaurant? Go with her!
- Holiday parties abound, from early November to who knows when. There’s Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving 1 – 5, Ugly Sweater Parties, Latke-offs, Awkward Co-worker Get Togethers, New Years Eve, Pre-New Years Eve…the list goes on.Of course it’s important to enjoy yourself during this time of year, and to enjoy each of these events! But remember: not each of these events is the biggest, most important event of all. Not each of them is a “cheat day”, if you believe in such a thing. If you life your life committed to a healthy, happy lifestyle, winter is not an excuse to abandon it. Yes, you may eat a slice of that apple pie; no, you should not go back for thirds if you wouldn’t normally do so.And of course, be careful with alcohol, which is always abundant this time of year! Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do on June 27th or August 3rd, just because it happens to be December 25th or December 31st!
Share the love
- This tip is here for two reasons. First, one of the reasons we all love holidays so much is because it’s a time for families and friends to come together, to remember why we all appreciate each other’s company and to show off just how important it is to have beautiful people in your life.Secondly, one of the best ways to beat back the blues is through physical touch. Hug your best friends. Kiss your partners. Be physically intimate. These actions will pass happiness from you to your loved ones and from them back to you, and isn’t sharing what love is all about?
Massage, of course!
- Sometimes the best treatment for winter depression is massage. Massage is known to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It also increases blood flow to the muscles, which can affect the body in a similar way to stretching. Massage also causes the body to release endorphins, creating a pleasurable, relaxing feeling. The general sense of malaise that winter causes in many people can melt away after a good massage.
What are your tips for getting through the cold, dark months of winter?
Feel free to share them with me in the comments!