And just like that, winter is here. Cold, dark, and dreary. It kind of makes you want to curl up in a ball and do nothing sometimes. In Canada, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect nearly 20% of the population, although I suspect that the typical “winter blues” affects the vast majority of us to some degree.
If you feel lethargic, tired, and unmotivated by a shift in the weather, you are not alone. I feel this way every single year when winter hits. So I’ve come up with some tips to help combat this challenge to stay proactive about your health and wellness all year round.
Exercise, and do it as soon as possible.
Working out releases feel good endorphins to help boost your mood and energy, and it always feels gratifying to check that off your to-do list. Be strategic about the timing if you can – it can be very difficult to find the energy to move your body after a long workday when it’s already dark outside. The longer you wait, the harder it is. So if it means getting up a little earlier to fit it in, it’s probably a well worth investment of your time.
Stick to a schedule.
Having a plan for your meals, workouts, to-do list, and bedtime helps promote a good sleep and a better frame of mind. Find a system that works for you – it might be an online schedule, a daily conversation with your spouse, a day planner, or a desktop calendar (or if you’re like me, all of the above!). Whatever it is, make sure this organizational tool keeps you consistent and accountable to your day.
Take in as much light as you can.
Go for walks in the afternoon, try red light therapy or the occasional tan, open the blinds to let the natural light in, or consider a bright light therapy box. These forms of light can keep your circadian rhythm in check while helping you feel better and more energized.
Take your vitamins (especially vitamin D).
Being nutrient deficient can intensify some symptoms of seasonal depression, particularly your energy levels. And the majority of the Canadian population will suffer from not enough vitamin D at least in the winter months due to very little sunlight exposure. It’s never a bad idea to pop a multivitamin and a D vitamin daily, just in case.
Clean and organize your home.
Living with mess and clutter can be stressful, overwhelming, and unmotivating. Taking up a project like organizing the kitchen cupboards, purging your clothes drawers, or cleaning out a closet is a good way to fill your time and feel oh-so-satisfied once you’re done.
Bonus: play some upbeat tunes, light some candles, or do whatever you need to do to create some positive vibes.
Take a vacation.
If you can’t get somewhere warm and sunny, try a staycation! Maybe it’s for a night, or maybe it’s for a week – wherever you go, getting some much needed downtime away from the stress, chaos, and busyness of everyday life can do wonders for us mentally and emotionally. For me, best case scenario is a hot destination. But some of my favorite local spots to hit up might include a hotel with a pool and hot tub, the spa, or exploring some national parks.
Bottom line: it’s natural to feel down in the dumps when winter hits. And while it’s perfectly okay to have a good Netflix binge from time to time, it’s also good to recognize when you’re feeling stuck in a rut. Applying these tips can help you stay proactive with your mental state and overall wellness, which will help you feel better on the inside and out.