8 Ways to beat those winter blues!
Mental health is such a personal topic. So many of us still find it difficult to talk about. I look forward to the day we talk about it the way we talk about our physical health. That it can be discussed the way most health issues are talked about, with no stigma or personal blame. I've learned its not something that can necessarily be controlled without medication. Yes, there are certain things we can do to make it better and for some it can help alleviate the symptoms altogether but for a lot of us it is a physiological imbalance in our brain and our bodies need medicine in order to respond.
While taking medication can make us feel more on our game and level us out, if you're like me you might still find that those winter months full of cold weather and dreary days, might still affect your moods. I suffer from the winter blues pretty much every year. Some years are worse than others but one thing they all have in common is that no matter whether I'm regulated with my medication or not there are some things I do that help me feel better.
1. Get out and socialize. It's not always easy to make that call or send that text when all you want to do is lay under the covers and forget the world outside. I have a hard time some times, even after an outing is planned, getting myself to just get dressed and go. One thing that is always true, no matter if I'm wearing something cute and doing myself up like the fashionista I like trying to be, or I make it out with sweats, a bun and make up free, I ALWAYS feel better after a lunch with friends or an outing with my hubby or family. You don't have to look stunning to get out. You just need to see your people!
2. Take a bath. I love myself a bubble bath! My husband will tell you a boiling hot one. Some days when the weather is the worst I love to shut myself up in my room and hop in a hot bath. Having some alone time away from the kids, all to yourself can really improve your mood! I usually read, or watch a show I'm trying to keep up on. When I get out I almost always feel refreshed. Although, when the weather is too cold I definitely keep the hair dry! No one wants to sit in a cold house with wet hair!
3. Pamper yourself. Doing my nails, throwing on a mask, deep conditioning my hair, ALL the girly things can always lift me up a little. When I'm feeling extra down they don't always sound "fun" but sometimes I'll just do them anyway and it can make me feel all the better!! Feeling pretty on the outside can make us feel better on the inside.
4. Plan a vacation. We try and take a vaca each spring/early summer as a family. I love planning where we are going to go and activities we are going to do. I even go so far as plan food for us to make, pack and bring along. Having something I look forward to seems to help make those days pass a little quicker and planning somewhere fun, full of fun things to do always gives me something fun to look ahead to!
5. Family time out. When the winter hits ALL I want to do is stay home where its warm. I notice a direct link to my worsening mood the longer we stay home. So while I don't like going, going, going when it's cold we do plan some family outings and traditions to get us out during the winter. Not near as many as summer, but a few things to help get us out even when it's cold. We do sledding, maybe once, cause I'm not about that life too often. Indoor activities are fun as well and many places do family discounts or discount days of the week. Sometimes we even just get pizza and have a family movie night at home. Anything out of our ordinary evening routine is considered "family time!"
6. Do something for someone else. I ALWAYS feel better after serving someone. Getting outside yourself and learning about others struggles and then trying to make their hard times a little easier is one way that really gets me out of my "woe is me" attitude. There are so many people who would love even the smallest kindness. I always listen to my intuition. If I randomly have a thought about a certain person, family or place, I take it as the voice of God telling me to reach out. I've never been led astray!
7. Exercise. Ok, I'm not exactly good at this one so I can't attest to it's benefits but it comes up time and time again as helpful to boost those endorphins. Maybe this will be one I turn to a little more this winter...we shall see.
8. Be in your mood. It's okay when you are feeling a particularly low day to just be. I have days, or a few days even where life just feels blah and the weather feels crappy and I want to stay in my warm happy bubble in my house. And that's OK!! It isn't until those days creep into weeks that I think it's concerning and when it happens I force myself to do something from the list above! Even when I don't really wanna. Being in your feelings, saying to yourself that the winter is sucking it, the weather is too cold for humans outside and I just wanna binge watch Netflix, is totally fine sometimes. There are times where we all need to just be.
I personally feel like having things to do, people to visit with, friends to text, others to serve, and self care for me is the way I can drag myself from the lowest of those winter blues. Does it mean I will begin to love the cold weather? NO way! I will always be a warm weather girl but it does help those months pass a little quicker for me and helps me create memories with the people I love that don't include sitting in my house on the couch. Well not all of them anyway!
I encourage you to find what will help you! I love swimming, mostly in the summer sun, but we go swim sometimes indoors during the winter and something about the smell of the pool even lifts me up. Find things you love and find winter alternatives! Like indoor sports leagues, book clubs or other types of clubs, if being around other mommy's makes you happy set up a play group! Is gardening for you? Grow something indoors! (Not that I have any clue how to do this however, I imagine for others it can be done.) Does baking make you happy? Join a class! Even a monthly date with friends can give you something to look ahead too! I hope these ideas will help you or help you brainstorm your own that will work for you!
If the winter blues are seeming more like depression, (symptoms here), contact your doctor, talk to someone and always if suicidal thoughts kick in call someone! Suicide hot line here. Because, even if you don't feel it, I promise there are people who love you and would hate to do one day without you!!