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January 27, 2019: Beat the Mid-Winter Blues

Out our Back Window

“When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.” unknown

Groundhog’s Day is a week away, but unlike Punxsutawney Phil the infamous groundhog, we can’t sleep our way through the long, cold winter days.  If you’re like I am, mid-winter blues are an annual phenomenon where I find myself more anxious, crankier, less motivated; finding it hard to get out of bed without a carafe of caffeine to fortify me.

But over the last few years, I’ve made some changes that have kept me off pharmaceuticals, happier, more productive and thankfully for my husband Ron’s sake, easier to live with.

Tried and True tips for beating the Mid-Winter Blues:

Keep active! I know how hard it is to get motivated and moving, but again and again, it’s proven to be helpful for me.  It’s gotten to the point if I wake up especially cranky and tired, Ron will gently ask, “are you swimming today.?” Fifteen minutes in the pool and the irritability seems to ebb away.  (Fortunately, he refrains from saying, “i told you so”upon my return.) Yoga and a brisk walk have the same calming benefits.

Warm it up!  Feeling really cold can add to the blues, so layer up and drink soothing, hot beverages. I love the quote “Where there’s tea there’s hope” by Arthur Wing Pinero. So I purchased a coffee press and a selection of teas and now take a mid-morning, comforting beverage break with a favorite mug.  This practice also gives me time to see what I’ve accomplished and what I need or want to do for the rest of the day.

Mid-Morning Mood Lifter-One of my favorite mugs

Pay attention to what we eat!  In the past, a bout of the blues would head me to the nearest carb factory and five extra pounds.  My energy would surge….temporarily, then crash leaving me feeling even more dragged down.  Now I try to avoid sugar and carbohydrates and snack instead on nuts. But I do know how an occasional treat of dark chocolate always brings a smile!

Spend time in Nature: Studies have shown that the benefits from spending time outdoors are beneficial in alleviating both anxiety and depression and the effects can last for up to seven hours.  When it’s 14 degrees below zero, like it was here in New Hampshire last week, my incentive to go outdoors is non-existent.  But on warmer days, I’ve found even a short jaunt provides a dose of vitamin d, and a boost of good feeling, especially when accompanied by two golden retrievers who are always ready and raring to go for a hike.

Take up a new Hobby, or make time for something you love to do. In mid-winter, with almost half our day in darkness, the inclination is to hunker down within the walls of our burrows and be couch potatoes, binge watching our favorite shows (which I still do on some nights).  But what better occasion is there to pursue a new hobby, or accomplish something we never seem to have time for during the rest of the year. I have a stack of “must-read” books on my bed table that are actually getting read and my water colors are now off their lonely shelf and actively engaged.

Newest Painting in Progress

Visit Friends and Family A former mid-winter hermit crab, I now make an attempt to reach out to friends and family through phone calls, social media and forays out for a visit.  Not only does it get me out of my own self-imposed doldrums, but it strengthens those treasured bonds of friendship that sustain me all year long.  Visits from my lively granddaughters are a guaranteed mood elevator.  Laughter definitely is the best medicine!

Our favorite local diner has “Pajamuary” in January.
We go to breakfast Sundays in our pajamas!

Look for the LightI read all the research on light and seasonal blues, actually bought a light, but never used it.  So now, I put my laptop near the light-filled slider, and work there.  Time outdoors during the day also brings the lightness back inside with me.

Sing a Happy Tune-Music can definitely set a mood stage, so I fill my playlist with tunes that make me feel relaxed and happy.  Pandora also has a great selection of artists in different genres and you don’t have to worry about constantly changing the station.

Pamper yourself—hot baths with fragrant oils, scented candles, and if you can afford it, a massage are all wonderful ways to banish winter for a while.

Other Tips: A splurge on flowers (remind me Spring’s ahead), a little retail therapy (sales abound this time of year), and planning future endeavors (think seed catalogues, vacations, etc.) all help to pass the time by too.

Like seeds beneath the snow….I dream of Springtime

These are all tried and true tips I’ve tried to incorporate in my life and have seen a marked difference.  I also try and look at each day as a fresh beginning and look for the beauty in nature rather than the hours of darkness, plummeting temperatures or icy roads. I still get cranky (ask Ron) and have bouts of brain fog and lethargy, but now I have some tools to work through them.

What have you found to work that banishes the mid-winter blues? I’d love to hear your ideas and add to my repertoire. You can share them in the comment section below.


  • Sue
    January 27, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your tips Wendy! This winter seems a bit easier as the weather hasnt been too severe yet. I try to learn new things each day thru work and art, keeping active with yoga and walking my dog also! And paint as much as I can – its fun to dream about new landscapes and places I’ve visited!

  • Sandy Gagnon
    January 27, 2019

    You hit the nail on the head with “keeping” busy. When we lived in NH, I worked 5 days a week and didnt really try to stay busy as I always was. 19 years ago when we moved to Fl and I was no longer working, we no longer had snow and cold weather to contend with so there were no winter doldrums. Not working brings a whole new aspect and even more reason to keep busy. I draw, paint, go out with friends or my husband for coffee, lunch, etc and spend a good amount of time with my little rescue, Debbie Jean.

  • Gail
    January 27, 2019

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Isn’t it a good thing that we have so many things to choose from? And that’s the key…making the right choices that make you feel better, rather than worse.

  • Lori
    January 28, 2019

    Oh, Wendy! You sweet thing! My absolute favorite new word: Pajamuary!!!

  • Suzanne
    January 29, 2019

    Hi Wendy,
    I really enjoyed this blog and learned some useful tips! I plan on looking through my Harris Seed catalogue tonight!

  • Marcia
    January 31, 2019

    I always look forward to the January days when each day is a little lighter just a little longer… it makes a tremendous difference. Just the other day I took the dogs out at 5:15 and there was still light! Giant smiles from me and Inky and Arlo!!! And then the yellow tulips on the table???? I smiled when I saw yuurs

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