Thursday, December 26, 2013

Getting Out Of the Winter Doldrums

January does it to me nearly every year: the winter blues. Perhaps it's because it follows all the holiday hoop-la. Maybe it's because it falls smack in the middle of the winter season. In our area that means an average of only twelve sunny days from November to March!

Whatever the reason, there are many things you may do to help your body, mind, and soul get out of it. These work for us every time. :)

Get more light. Some people really do have a disorder called SAD (seasonal affective disorder) caused mainly from light deprivation. With all our clouds, I really think this affects me. 
  • The simple solution is to turn on all the lights in your work area. 
  • Lighting candles and starting a fireplace fire also help. 
  • Of course, if the sun comes out, open all the blinds and curtains and sit in the sun for awhile. 
  • Even if it is cloudy outdoors, just getting out into the filtered sunlight helps tremendously!
Get more exercise. As everyone knows, exercise releases those mood-boosting chemicals in our brains. Fight lethargy with leg work!
  • Why let a perfectly good yard full of snow go to waste? Bundle up the kids and go out to build a snowman. No kids? Go solo. Look at it as decorating your yard for winter. Build it close to the road where everyone passying by may be cheered by it also. We used to make snow families with a papa, mama, and baby. What precious, precious memories. Go build some today!
  • Don't abandon your walking routine. If you are really adventurous, you may invest in a good pair of winter hiking boots and continue your outdoor walks. If you're more like me, you can just go to the mall or supermarket and walk around. Some municipalities even have heated sidewalks downtown where one may window shop in the winter. In any case, you might want to leave your cash and cards at home so you won't be tempted to splurge. ;)
  • Get out and enjoy those sports you may only play in winter: skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, snow boarding, sledding, snowball fighting, polar bear club dipping. (Okay, maybe not that last one. I think you have to get drunk first.)
  • Join a club. Many fitness clubs run specials during the winter to snag those folks who've made New Year's resolutions to lose weight and get fit. Try out all the different workout equipment, and maybe get something of your own at home later on.
  • Do something new. Check out local classes for line dancing, water aerobics, and other out-of-the-ordinary exercises. The social contact would do you good, too.
  • Start spring cleaning early. Anything you do to move is exercise. If you start washing walls, moving furniture, and scrubbing every nook and cranny in your home, I guarantee you will work up a sweat. Then, when the weather finally warms up, you won't be stuck indoors cleaning.
Get less sugar. When you are feeling down, the first thing your body usually craves is something sweet. Yet, it is the very last thing you need to sustain an uplifted mood. Though you may feel a surge of energy at first, you will come down with a crash on the other side of the sugar rush. Choose these snack alternatives to sugar-laden ones in order to avoid the slumps (SF = sugar free; FF = fat free):
  • SF, FF yogurt cups
  • SF pudding or gelatin with a dollop of SF whipped topping
  • Smoothies made with SF, FF yogurt and fruit (add no-calorie sweetener to taste)
  • Low-fat hard cheese with wholegrain crackers
  • Apple slices with peanut butter spread on them
  • Vegetables dipped in creamy dressing 
  • Bagels with cream cheese and all-fruit jam
  • Please leave your ideas in the comments!
Get just enough sleep. When it's dark and gloomy, all we want to do is hibernate. And, though it is winter, that's just not an option for busy women like us. Sometimes the darker days and longer nights mess up our body clocks. Getting in a set routine of going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time is good all year round, but especially in the winter. Most folks can get by well on 7-9 hours. But, everyone is different. If you get 6 hours of sleep and nap for an hour in the afternoon, you're probably getting enough. However, if you still feel like you are sleep deprived, it would do you good to try for a longer stretch of sleep some time over the weekend. Sunday afternoons are nap time at our house, and we don't have anyone under 24!

Create an invigorating atmosphere. We've already discussed the importance of light in lifting our moods. Now, add some uplifting music to the mix along with some scented candles or diffusers. Here are a few invigorating scents to try:
  • Eucolyptus
  • Citrus: grapefruit, orange, lemon
  • Bergamot (also a citrus; makes Earl Grey tea so good)
  • Anything from the mint family
  • Pine
  • Herbs and spices such as basil, marjoram, sage, and rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Coffee (Yes! The smell of coffee really can wake you up!)
  • Sandalwood
  • Frankincense
What do you do to get through the winter doldrums? I'd love to hear your ideas. Maybe some of them would help me, too. Please leave your ideas in the comments.

And, hang in there, Darlin'! Spring is just around the corner. :)