January 27, 2019: Beat the Mid-Winter Blues
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.